Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tim Wilson and the Nonstop Talker

Category: Review/Opinion

Tim Wilson opened his second week of performances at Louisville's Comedy Caravan on Wednesday night (10/24) on a very sour note -- but through no fault of his own. Before he could so much as say "hello" to the crowd, a woman sitting in the front row began talking non-stop to the comedian. Wilson pleaded with her to stop talking, but unfortunately, the more he asked, the more she talked. She finally stormed out, after throwing her glass at Wilson, when he called her "arrogant."

I remember seeing Dan Fogelberg in 1982, on his tour for the album The Innocent Age. Personally, I found this to be Fogelberg's "wimpy" era. There was certainly nothing on that album that matched "Old Tennessee" from Captured Angel or "As the Raven Flies" from Souvenirs. Further, I'm sure that even Fogelberg's biggest fans will admit that "Longer" may qualify as the worst song he's ever written. Having said that, I could totally understand why Fogelberg begged an audience member to stop after the concert goer decided the line, "Higher than any bird ever flew," needed bird chirping sound effect accompaniment. (This was in the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia, with a crowd of about 12,000, so that should tell you (a) how quiet the audience was in anticipation of enjoying Fogelberg performing his big, if smarmy, hit; and (b) just how loudly this bozo was doing the bird chirps!) Fogelberg lost track of where he was in the song and started over. Before beginning the song again he said, "This is hard enough as it is."

Where are manners at public performances? How many times have you been to an event and heard someone's cell phone go off? That happened when I was in Nashville in September attending the "Poets and Prophets" session with Bobby Braddock. It's happened in religious services (folks, God ain't gonna call you on your cell phone, so TURN IT OFF!). It's even happened in the Comedy Caravan -- after they make three announcements to turn them off.

Someone pays twelve bucks to see a comedian (that's a third of a tank of gas, y'know), and they think that their money entitles them to talk to their date so loudly that no one sitting nearby can hear what's being said on stage; or, worse, as happened last night (and at other comedy shows I've been to), their ticket gives them the right to chat with the comedian while he's onstage trying to entertain the other 300 people who paid their twelve bucks.

"Let me explain something," Wilson said after the woman thankfully left. "When you see Bill Cosby, he's doing a song." Wilson then launched into a marvelous impersonation of Cosby's voice and intonation. "See?" he said at the conclusion. "That's a song. It flows. It has notes. Bill Cosby doesn't need someone sticking extra notes in there for him." He further emphasized his point by singing the first line of "Yesterday:" "Yesterday, all my troubles la la la la la la la la la la, far away."

Wilson is 100% correct on this matter. Comedians, unless they are a team (e.g., Bob and Ray, Pinkard and Bowden), are there to do a monologue, and they have no doubt spent years rehearsing their act as a solo. They are professionals, and they do not need help from anyone in the audience -- unless they specifically ask for it.

I have never seen a comedian -- even Gallagher, the "sledge-o-matic" watermelon-smashing superstar -- who has not made himself/herself available after the show to talk to fans, sign autographs, or pose for photos. THAT is the time to talk to them, not while they're on stage. Or, if it is that you think you're that darn funny, check with the comedy club's management and see when "open mic night" is (the Comedy Caravan's open performance night is called "Show Up & Go Up").

But please, do NOT go to a comedy show and try to have a friendly chat with the performer while he's doing his job trying to entertain. If you feel you just cannot restrain yourself, wear a muzzle.

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