This weekend saw Chris Rock conclude his 2018 UK ‘Total Blackout’ tour in London, where he banned fans from using their phones.
The US comedy legend played the final nights of the run with a trio of London shows between the SSE Arena Wembley at The O2. However, as with the rest of the tour, fans were told to lock their phones away upon arrival.
Rock described phones as a “major intrusion” on his performance, arguing that he was hampered by the audience filming the show and posting on social media. He urged fans to “take one night off from being the paparazzo of your own life”.
He added: “There is also the added problem for comedians who spend months polishing their performances to a high state of hilarity only to have their punchlines shared in advance by illegal recordings of their show”.
A statement on The O2’s website added: “There is a strict NO MOBILE PHONE policy in place for this show. Any phones brought into the venue will be required to be placed in a supplied locked pouch when entering the arena concourse which you keep with you at all times.
“This is a free service but please allow extra time for security searches and to have your phone placed in a secure pouch by specialist on-site staff.
“All customers will be subject to a search and anyone found with a phone within the arena will be asked to leave the venue.”
Fans then took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the impact of locking their phones away at various shows on the tour. Most were happier than others.
Chris Rock at the 02 tonight was honestly hilarious and a great experience.
No pictures, we all had to put our phones in some pouch, locked up when we walked in, but honestly it made it a better experience for us and understandably for him also.
— Nego True ? (@NegoTrue) January 28, 2018
I went to see @chrisrock tonight and it was great. I was sooo impressed by the little phone cases. How refreshing to not see 10,000 phones and people actually talking to each other. It’s the future! ☺️ pic.twitter.com/lDrA5oY5QR
— ??? ????????? (@Amy__Macdonald) January 24, 2018
Really enjoyed the Chris Rock show at the O2 tonight, the whole locking your phone in a 90's style Velcro wallet felt unnecessary, I get why, but a shame that performers feel the need to enforce such measures. Added an hour to getting in to gig but staff handled it well
— Jon (@ColdZero2006) January 28, 2018
One fan at a show in Glasgow was even kicked out for looking at his phone during the show.
“I must have only looked at it for about 15 seconds, no one was on stage and I held it discreetly on my lap, then I was approached by a guard,” 45-year-old Chris Penman told The Evening Times. “They looked through my camera roll and my deleted images but I hadn’t taken pictures so there was nothing there.
“As they were going through it, the text came in from my brother saying my dad had managed to take his medication and eat without being sick – which is what I was waiting for.
He continued: “My dad is in the heart transplant ward in the Golden Jubilee in a really bad way. I explained the full thing but they still said I had to leave. I couldn’t believe it – I’m still baffled today.
“It’s just extraordinarily petty and unreasonable.
Mr Penman added: “I’m happy that my dad is doing better but I’m angry because my wife paid £140 for the tickets as a gift and we didn’t even get to see Chris Rock.
“It was the first night I’ve left my dad in weeks, and was supposed to be a bit of a break, but ended up completely ruined by this ridiculous situation.”
“No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed,” a statement read. “We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON.”
“Upon arrival at the venue, all phones and other photo or video-capturing gizmos will be secured in a Yondr pouch that will be unlocked at the end of the show. You keep your pouch-secured phone on you during the show and, if needed, can unlock your phone at any time in a designated Yondr Phone Zone located in the lobby or concourse.”