Dave Chappelle has a reputation for doing things his way, and he’s become such a force in the world of comedy that it’s hard for anyone to really argue with him anymore. This is a man who walked away from millions of dollars and one of the most talked-about TV shows on the planet because it just felt right to him. Sometimes he walks off stage because people won’t quiet down, while other times he explcitly tells security to let the hecklers stay just so he can mess with them. Sometime he’s onstage for an hour, and other times he sticks around for six. You can call him erratic or unpredictable or just plain crazy all you want, but Dave Chappelle will just keep right on being Dave Chappelle.
Though he’s risen to become one of the biggest stand-ups of his generation, Chappelle still has one thing in common with just about every comic performing today: cell phones are the bane of his existence, and not just because of the lights and sound. For many comics (Patton Oswalt is probably the most famous), there’s a concern that someone is out in the audience discreetly recording their sets, which can be a problem for both intellectual property reasons and because sometimes a comic just needs time to work out a joke live before they get it where they’d like it to be. Unfortunately for Chappelle, and for every stand-up, you just can’t get people to keep their phones in their pockets, nor can you corral every cell phone in the room into a single secure location. You can temporarily cripple them, though, and that’s just what Chappelle is going to do.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chappelle has partnerned with tech company Yondr for a phone-disabling effort at a series of sold-out shows in Chicago this week. Yondr has developed a special sleeve, first used at a comedy show by Hannibal Buress, that will lock shut when guests enter a “no phone zone.” So, if you head to a Chappelle show this week, you’ll be a handed a sleeve, asked to place your phone inside it, and then when you take your seat you’ll find you can no longer access your phone, and you won’t be able to as long as you’re in the performance area. Walk into the lobby, and the sleeve is magically unlocked, allowing you to post that all-important tweet, but when you walk back to your seat, voila, no more phone use for you.
Obviously this method is not available to all stand-ups, because it’s not exactly free. But if this works for Chappelle, it could have all sorts of applications. Imagine going to the movies, secure in the knowledge that the idiot in front of you not only won’t use his phone, but can’t. This doesn’t exactly guarantee smooth sailing at Chappelle gigs from now — people can still shout “I’m Rick James, bitch!” after all — but it is a step in the right direction.