Phone Pouch and Plane Problems Result in Chaos at St. Louis Comedy Show
Comedians Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle headlined a chaotic show Sunday night at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. It wasn't however, the comedy, that created the chaos.
St. Louis Today detailed the chaos at the comedy show scheduled to start at 7:30 PM at the Enterprise Center.
According to St. Louis Today, the first problem came when cell phones and smart watches were locked in pouches after attendees had their digital tickets scanned. The problem with that? People couldn't check their digital tickets for their seat location and section. That required staff to write out seat locations, which made getting people to their seats a slow process. St. Louis Today says entry lines at points stretched for three blocks.
The show then started late, either because of the time it took folks to get to their seats. Or because Chappelle's plane had mechanical problems and he wasn't at the venue when the show started. By the way, Chappelle's travel delays weren't disclosed to those at the show. Chappelle himself mentioned it towards the end of his set. Which by the way, came after what St. Louis Today characterized as more stalling.
There were post-show frustrations as well, as there wasn't a super identifiable way for patrons to find Enterprise Center staff to unlock the pouches for show attendees to get their phones freed.
I've attended and worked a lot of shows in my life, both concerts and comedy shows, and when things don't go according to plan it can become a difficult evening for both attendees and staff.
For example, when I saw Garth Brooks at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock a few years ago, they warned everyone to show up early because they were concerned about getting a sell-out crowd in the building. That wasn't the problem. The problem was at concessions, where the stands were staffed by volunteers who then made money for their community organizations by manning the stands. They weren't used to sell out crowds, and beer being sold at every stand. Waiting forty minutes for a beer and a hot dog, was not fun.
Speaking of comedy, once as a Promotions Director for a radio station, we brought comedian Rodney Carrington in for two shows. An early show and a late show. Rodney was battling the flu and like a champ made it through the early show. Between shows, he went to the emergency room at the local hospital, for some treatment.
The venue for this was an old theater that was turned into a converted club. Rodney's fans, at that point 20 years ago, liked to party. So we opened the venue for the second show and people started drinking. Showtime came and went. I nervously kept checking my watch as we went from 30 minutes late, to an hour late, to 90 minutes late. Finally, the promoter pulled me backstage and told me Rodney was at the hospital.
At that point he got a call, the docs told Rodney to not perform. So a plan was hatched that we'd send the opener out, who would do a headline-length set in an effort to give people a good show and hopefully keep people from wanting their money back. After his set, I was to go out on stage with the Skoal Girls, and we'd toss free giveaway items out to people. When that was done the ladies would leave the stage and I'd announce that Rodney was sick and wouldn't perform. They also gave me instructions to announce the cancellation, get off the stage quickly, and out of the building and onto Rodney's bus. Because yaknow, drunk ticked off attendees.
The venue by the way was telling me not to announce anything till the cops showed up. Of course, the cops hadn't shown by the time I was on stage stalling with Skoal Girls, and I really can't tell you if they were there by the time the first beer bottle whizzed past my head.
My point is when it comes to concerts and shows, sometimes shit happens. Sometimes the venue miscalculates something. Other times it's something else. In the case of the Chris Rock / Dave Chappelle concert at the Enterprise Center, it was a bit of both.
The Enterprise Center created its own difficult situation before the show began by not figuring out a better way to get people to their seats without having to write seat, row, and section numbers on paper. Like maybe, having everyone print tickets? Additionally, they could have made sure staff were clearly uninformed at the end of the show to unlock the cell phone pouches.
As for Chappelle's travel problems, there really isn't a good way to handle that. If you tell people he's late, it can potentially create a dangerous crowd dynamic. If you cancel his performance after the show starts, that's another potentially dangerous crowd dynamic. Stalling was probably the best option, even if it led to the show ending much later than anticipated. With comedians of Rock and Chappelle's caliber, it probably was the best way to make sure most folks, at the very least, enjoyed the comedy.
Which, according to St. Louis Today, many folks did. Despite the stalling, entry issues, and freeing your phone from the pouch after a long night.