Lock Up Your Phones, Kevin Hart Appearing in Las Vegas on New Year’s
Today, comedian Kevin Hart announced that he will usher in the New Year in Las Vegas. His “Reality Check: New Year’s Eve Experience” show will grace Resorts World on December 31 and January 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21 at kevinhartnation.com. Hart recently announced he would also play Resorts World on Nov. 18 and 19, during which his next comedy special will be filmed.
Like a growing number of arena comedy and music shows, all of Hart’s performances will be phone-free experiences. If you attend, you will be handed a fabric pouch, into which you must to insert your phone and smart watch to enter. Manufactured by a San Francisco-based company called Yondr, the pouch is equipped with a magnetic lock that activates once inside a designated “cellphone-free” space.
The Yondr pouch allows artists to maintain control over their jokes or music without fear of having their punchlines or new songs leaked to the web — or, in the case of more provocative comics, without fear of having an off-color moment uploaded to YouTube out of context, leading to the cancelation of their livelihood by an angry Twitter mob.
The only way to unlock your pouch, which stays in your possession throughout the performance, is to have a Yondr staff member tap it to a base station. This is done either at the end of the performance, or if you need to make an emergency phone call during the performance. (If you do, you can only make it in the lobby and your pouch must be resealed for you to re-enter the theater.)
Only the Tech is New, Not the Idea
Recording-free performance are nothing new. For decades, the standard Ticketmaster ticket stated that cameras and recording devices “may not be brought onto the premises.”
Once the first iPhone integrated high-quality video capability in 2007, however, enforcing this rule suddenly became a nightmare for concert promoters. For a decade, ushers were instructed to shine flashlights into the eyes of audience members they caught using their phones to record shows. If they didn’t comply, these audience members were ejected. But this was a highly disruptive experience for audience members trying to enjoy the show around the offenders, and the process eventually grew into a losing game of Whac-a-Mole.
“We’ve had a strict no-cellphone rule for years,” comedian Dave Chappelle told CBS This Morning in 2015. “Obviously, if you look on YouTube, you will see that very few people adhere to it.”
Yondr’s first test run was a dozen Chapelle shows in 2015 at the 800-capacity Thalia Hall in Chicago. Since the success of that endeavor, Yondr secures about a million cell phones each month.
Now, you can’t see a live performance by comedians Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Michael Che, or Hart without having being handed a grey and fluorescent-green Yondr pouch. The same goes for shows from musicians Jack White, Chance the Rapper, or Solange.
While some audience members are miffed, the majority have gotten used to it. Some even appreciate being able to watch a show without interference from a neighbor’s distracting phone use.
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