Dave Chappelle is in the middle of a 13-night run at Thalia Hall in Chicago. Of course, his shows are sold out and he wants to keep his show OFF the Internet.
To do that, he’s teamed up with San Francisco-based startup Yondr, which makes cloth “socks” for smartphones with a smart lock on them. Cross into the “no phone zone,” and you’ll have to get the sock locked, preventing theater-goers from distracting phone use.
Attendees at any of Chappelle’s 13 sold-out Thalia Hall performances will be greeted by staffers handing out gray smartphone sleeves, available in three sizes. They are then instructed to place their phones inside the sleeves and fasten them, at which point they are welcome to carry them inside the venue.
As soon as they enter the “no-phone zone,” however, the pouches will have locked shut, preventing anyone from firing off so much as a winking emoji. Need to make a call or send an email? No problem. Simply leave the designated zone (and head, say, to the lobby bar), and, as you move past several strategically placed stations, the pouches can now magically be unlocked.
If the experiment works, it could mark a bold new era in stand-up comedy — one in which comedians can breathe a little bit easier knowing their bluest material won’t wind up online before last call. And the service, which is already being employed by various schools around the country, can easily extend to other sensitive entertainment events — say, that upcoming preview screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Hannibal Buress was the first comedian to try Yondr. After a video went viral of a 2014 performance in which he repeatedly called Bill Cosby a rapist, resulting in death threats, Buress decided to use the technology at a show last June. That led executives from Live Nation, producers of the current Chappelle tour, to consult with him about Yondr. He told them he was happy with the results.
Could this be the next major trend in live entertainment? How would you feel about a phone free concert? What about a phone-free wedding, or work meeting?