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  1. Opinion

How the audience ruined the David Cross show at the Straz

David Cross performed at the Straz Center on Friday night. The audience wasn’t funny.
David Cross performed at the Straz Center on Friday night. The audience wasn’t funny.
Published Apr. 17, 2016

Date nights are few and far between in Toddler World. They're planned weeks or months in advance, generally around some special event.

On Friday night, our special event was the David Cross comedy show at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. I bought tickets the day they went on sale, made dinner reservations days in advance.

Dinner was great.

The show? Meh — and that's not on Cross. He was great when the audience allowed him to perform.

Case Study No. 1: You're late

There was no opening act for the show, and maybe some people didn't know that. I don't care.

More than 10 minutes into the act (which started 15 minutes late), Cross invited the audience to fill in eight seats left open at the front of the house — two were in the front row. He had takers. Or he did until an usher kicked those takers out of the seats when the tardy front-row folks showed up, to quote Cross, "drinks in hand," a little while later.

The usher was booed. Cross stopped the show to get the story. I was enjoying the bit up to that point, but completely lost the flow after the commotion. What do I remember? The commotion.

Case Study No. 2: You're drunk

We were on the second level, so I could hear only the woman who kept shouting at Cross. She critiqued his attire when he talked about hipsters, swore at him a bit later. The second incident got her kicked out, but it was also a show stopper. Again, I remember nothing but the disruption.

Case Study No. 3: You're scary

With all these interruptions, Cross took the hits and kept rolling. He warned the audience that while he's not a fan of shouted contributions, he'd tolerate it for now. And then he signaled that talk-back was off the table.

I laughed the hardest during this part of the performance, and wasn't particularly perturbed by the row that cleared out downstairs. If you can't handle political comedy during an election year, well, you've probably made a bad decision on how to spend your evening.

And then the yelling started.

From above, it sounded like shouted prayer. People bolted their seats, Cross stopped talking. For about 30 panic-stricken seconds, I imagined we were in the midst of some kind of attack. Later, my husband told me it sounded like an anarchist anthem to him. I'm not a nervous person, but I didn't relax for the rest of the show.

Cross refused to finish the bit, telling the audience to watch the comedy special he was taping in a few days. I can't blame him, as there was no recovering his momentum. The faceless jerk shouted an apology, but I never saw him escorted out.

On the walk back to our car, we mostly discussed the interruptions. Others around us were doing the same.

I feel like the late people, the drunk woman and the shouting jerk owe me $79 in ticket and handling fees — and I'd bet others feel the same way.

I'm done wasting date-night money on shows where I can't expect the audience to have better manners than my kid, who's not yet 2.

Oh, and get off my lawn.

Ellen E. Clarke is the editor of tbt*. Thoughts? Email us at tbteditors@tampabay.com.

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