Rude Audiences Reflect a Wider Societal Problem [Video]

Rude Audiences Reflect a Wider Societal Problem [Video]

Rude Audiences Reflect a Wider Societal Problem [Video]

We make fun of celebrities a lot. Hollywood has become a caricature of itself, with rampant sex scandals, pedophilia, vaginal steaming, incessant lecturing and virtue signaling, and spoiled, entitled celebrities making crazy demands on the set that make all of us cringe, wondering how these overindulged, spastic, neurotic weasels even survive in the real world.

They are ridiculous, pampered, gnats.

But what we tend to forget is that acting – real acting – is not easy. Putting yourself into the mindset of another person, becoming another person is challenging, to say the least. It takes a strong mind and the ability to lose yourself in someone else, a strong sense of empathy, and a lot of emotional investment to become someone else – a someone else that is sometimes quirky, sometimes depressing, sometimes evil, and sometimes insane.

It’s hard work. I’ve been there. My dream in college was to become a Broadway star. (Don’t judge.) I studied music, voice, and dance in addition to my regular school work. I was rehearsing late into the night and going to classes in the morning.

I’ve always loved the theater, so I understand performers’ frustrations when they have to contend with audience rudeness, interruptions, giggles, and phones during the performance – all indications that our society is drowning in a swamp of its own arrogance and entitlement.

During the 2015 run of the comedy “Shows for Days,” Patti LuPone, playing a small-town theater diva, snatched a phone from the hands of a woman who was texting.

Back in 2009, she hollered, “Stop taking pictures now!” during a performance of “Gypsy.”


At another show, someone got under her skin by unwrapping candy for an eternity. “If you don’t stop with the candy, I’ll kill you,” LuPone told the audience member.


A cellphone went off as Laura Benanti was singing “Will He Like Me” during a performance of the 2015 revival of “She Loves Me.”

“I’ll wait,” she said. The phone continued to ring. “We’ll all wait,” she said, and the orchestra stopped playing until the phone was silenced.

Yes, actors can be pompous, arrogant, and intolerant, but you know what? They’re also right.

They put their entire hearts and souls into these performances, and if you think becoming someone else, remembering your lines, singing in tune without synthesizer help in a studio, while dancing in character and costume is easy, I cordially invite you to try and not make a fool of yourself.

Audiences come to the theater to escape – to be transported into another world through music, dialogue, and the energy radiated by the enormous talents on stage who give everything they have to entertain and excite the audiences, who pay hefty prices for tickets.

And yet, more and more they have to contend with the same rudeness we see everywhere else. Drunken louts giggle inappropriately, rustle food wrappers loudly, sleep, snore, and text.

I recently went to see a show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. A friend and I sat in the balcony, and as I gazed over the audience, I saw a sea of nothing but glowing phone screens. This wasn’t just bratty millennials. I saw plenty of grey hair in that ocean of humanity, and yet, they couldn’t put their phones down long enough to appreciate the stunning concert hall, or the fact that they were about to have their breath taken away by the heavenly music, for which they paid hundreds of dollars.

Every time my husband and I go out, I tend to people watch. People hardly talk. They walk with their noses in their phone screens. They get louder and louder the more they drink (my music teacher once told me that the first sense to be affected by alcohol is one’s hearing). They get obnoxious with wait staff and their children’s sports coaches. They talk loudly in movie theaters and even their children’s school plays. They have no respect even for places considered sacred.

Given people’s lack of decorum even at this most solemn, sacred of places and their inability to be respectful even to our fallen heroes, can we really expect them to show any respect for those who are giving their entire heart for their entertainment?

The most notorious instance of bad behavior took place at “Hand to God” in 2015. Before the show started at the Booth Theatre, a young man climbed on the stage and plugged his phone into an outlet on the set. Several minutes later, as the houselights went down and the cast was waiting in the wings, he jumped back on stage to retrieve the phone.


Playbill later identified the offender as Nick Silvestri, a 19-year-old student from Nassau Community College.

Silvestri admitted to having a few drinks before the show, but was unapologetic.

“Girls were calling all day,” he said. “What would you do?”

Just what in fresh hell?

What would I do? I would turn my damn phone off and show some respect to people who are working their asses off in a job that requires not only skill, but significant concentration and emotional investment, and where there’s no room for screwing up and no additional takes in front of a live audience.

But then again, I wasn’t raised an entitled, disrespectful, self-absorbed shit fungus!

It’s time to take a look at our society and closely examine how we behave in public and how we treat one another – not just in the theater, but writ large. How we behave in the theater, at the orchestra, at the opera, etc. is a reflection of an apparent shift in the conduct we appear ready to tolerate in other venues. I’ve seen drunken sports fans hurling invective at a little kid after their team lost a game, merely because said child was wearing the opposing team’s jersey. I’ve seen angry diners loudly berating their waiters, airline passengers treating flight attendants like their own personal bitches. The rudeness we see in theaters is a symptom of a larger problem, and it’s time we, as a society, stop tolerating jackassery.

As for the douche cracker at the theater with the phone…

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight for your viewing pleasure we will be adding a bonus scene to our show. For your viewing pleasure we will be eviscerating an audience member with cello bows, but first… he will be beaten to a bloody pulp with a tuba. Live. For your entertainment and warning.

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

  • Merle says:

    let me know when the bonus scene is scheduled – I’ll be there !!!


  • mac says:

    Ladies, we’re totally hosed as a society. We have one segment of our society–the one that commits the most crime–that has 75%+ of its spawn born out of wedlock. This means those kids never have the guidance of a stern father teaching them how to behave in public–and providing them with consequences when they misbehave.

    Moreover, the schools can’t do it either because there are too many little Laquishas and Lebrons out there who don’t have a clue about etiquette and no intention whatsoever of learning. Many of those kids take pride in being a street thug and treating others rudely.

    The polite society is simply outnumbered and pushed around by the rude hooligans. Consequently, many of the people who used to be polite default to thinking, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

    What we need is some good old-fashioned corporal discipline at a young age for all of these children. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that. It would undoubtedly be seen as having a “disparate impact” and therefore illegal.

    Oh, and if this sounds racist, I couldn’t possibly care less. The truth is the truth, no matter who it offends.

    • GWB says:

      What we need is some good old-fashioned corporal discipline at a young age for all of these children.

      Well, it’s either corporal punishment as children, or corporal punishment (jail and the chair) as an adult.
      Pay me now, or pay me later. It’s your choice.

  • Sam says:

    My job is hard too. So what? That doesn’t give me the right to be “pompous, arrogant, and intolerant”. I put up with lots of cr*p from lots of people too. They need learn to suck it up.

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      What about the rest of us, who paid loads of money for tickets just to watch morons be distracting and rude? That OK for us too? Do we need to suck it up?

      This is a matter of decorum.

      No one said it’s a good thing they’re “pompous, arrogant and intolerant.” The observation is that they merely are, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the jerks who come to the theater and act like ass canoes are somehow OK.

      This is a statement on our society. You shouldn’t be excusing it.

      • GWB says:

        “ass canoes”???

      • Sam says:

        🙂 Hi Marta,

        I am not excusing anything. I agree it is a social decorum problem that’s probably based mostly on lack of respect. Nobody respects anyone anymore. I -am- “the rest of us”. I think it’s terrible the jerks that act like “ass canoes”. I also think it’s terrible the actors that act like “ass canoes”. Those, like me, (the rest of us) that paid good money to see the show should not have to be insulted by both audience ass canoes AND celebrity ass canoes! The show, and the actor, exist for the consumer. The audience does not exist for the actor.

        • Marta Hernandez says:

          LOL I just saw this, so sorry for the late reply. There’s no doubt that celebrities are jerks – at least many of them are. There’s also no doubt that the vast majority of theater actors work their asses off to give the audience that inspiring bit of spirit, that entertainment, that bit of beauty they pay to see. (Sorry, I know how to say it in my native tongue, but the English escapes me today.)

          Nonetheless, no one is denying the absolute ass-canoeness (yes, I just made that up) of celebrities, but my post was more about us as a society, rather than them. 🙂

          • Sam says:

            Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with you, about both celebrities and society in general. The problem, as I see it, and as I said before, is that nobody respects anybody else anymore. So many people seem to have no concept of anything except themselves. With the emphasis on self-esteem, equal outcomes and gender neutrality as taught in public schools for the last 20 years, we get wacko people unable to accept anything negative in their lives without going on shooting rampages, and even capable of targeting infants and toddlers! It’s really horrible, and you can’t shield children from all of the immorality rampant in society when it is portrayed EVERYWHERE – movies, tv, cartoons, radio, billboards, public school itself, and even young parents of today use profanity so commonly that their kids cannot not hear it. I am a loving, caring father of a now 37 year old daughter, and never had to spank her or anything like that, not even once. I am not in favor of any kind of excess or abuse, but I think they need to bring back hickory switches and corporal punishment in our public schools and teach these kids/demand a little respect from them. People who learn how to respect others, also learn how to earn respect for themselves.

            • Marta Hernandez says:

              I agree. I think as far as discipline, various methods work for various kids. Spanking would work on my son, but not my daughter, and I think I only did it once or twice for each, anyway, because they were great kids. But each kid’s personality is different. The problem is parents are just lazy these days. They think they popped out a kid, plop him or her down in front of the TV, and that’s all that’s needed to raise their crotchfruit. They really don’t understand that kids are individuals and human beings and don’t care about getting to know them.

  • Sam says:

    I agree with Mac

  • GWB says:

    I will say that your defense of some actors and other performers is valid. The problem is the ones that are supposedly most highly skilled and definitely the most highly paid are often inadequate at their job, as compared to their reputation. Their ego is often much larger than the skill set that once supported it. That bunch of performers gives a bad name to (resists temptation to do 1% joke here) the rest of the group.

    There’s also the matter of many performers thinking that their skill at pretending entitles them to pretensions on moral character and intelligence that are not supported by the evidence. This, again, gives an excuse to their audiences to show disrespect for all performers.

    However, having said that, you are right Marta: society, in general, has become more crude, rude, and base than it was previously. That’s what happens when you spend decades mocking “bourgeois values”.

    Sadly, it’s a grand indicator of why we are where we are, politically, as well. For, a country where the people cannot govern themselves, must, of necessity, be governed by their betters.

    • Sam says:

      You’re saying the people can no longer govern themselves? ..and who, pray tell, are their “betters”?

      • GWB says:

        Well, practically speaking, their “betters” are those who accumulate the power. Philosophically speaking, their betters are those who can control their passions enough to rise to power.
        I was paraphrasing several Founding Fathers, however:

        John Adams: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
        Gouverneur Morris: “[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments.”
        Benjamin Rush: “[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

        You will be governed, as the world abhors anarchy as much as the universe abhors a vacuum. If you cannot govern yourself, others will govern you.

        As to the people no longer being able to govern themselves?
        *points to Hollywood, Greenwich Village, Detroit, Chicago, D.C.*

        • Sam says:

          Well, I agree with you philosophically. I hope however that we have not lost all morals and can still govern ourselves for some time to come. Otherwise, the great American experiment has failed, and there would be no such thing as “Natural Rights” that our “betters” now in power would ever allow. If this were to come to pass, would it ever be possible again to have another “Revolution” to recognize and attempt to implement another “free” society?

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