The rise of smartphones has had a profound impact on the comedy scene. Comedians who might never have made a name for themselves a decade ago now have a chance to go viral if a clip of their material makes its way on to YouTube. Someone shares the clip with a few of their friends, the clip winds up on a popular blog and suddenly we all know the comedian’s name.
On the other hand, for established comedians, smartphones can be a double-edged sword. Which is why Dave Chappelle turned his latest stand-up shows into a “no-phone zone.”
You might be wondering exactly how Chappelle plans to keep people off their phones when they come to see his sold-out shows in Chicago. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chappelle entered into an agreement with San Francisco-based startup Yondr in order to provide audience members with smartphone-locking pouches for use during the show.
The way it works is when an attendee enters the venue, a staff member will hand them a Yondr pouch (available in three sizes) and they will be instructed to put their phone in the pouch and fasten it. Once they enter the “no-phone zone,” the pouch will lock shut, and they’ll need to leave the area if they want to remove their phone from the pouch. In other words, if you need to check a text message or take an important phone call, head to the lobby and the pouch will unlock.
Understandably, no one wants to hand over their phone at the beginning of a show, especially in a theater with upwards of 20,000 other people in attendance. While Yondr might sound like an odd alternative, it’s certainly preferable to having your phone taken from you before watching a live event.
It’s hard to say whether or not phone-neutralizing pouches are the future of live comedy, but they appear to be a smart compromise for performers who want to keep their material off the Internet.