Canadian comedian Sandra Shamas was at the NAC in Ottawa recently performing her latest one-woman show. Years ago, I saw her at the same venue enertaining the audience with stories about her failed marriage. I recall that, in the middle of her show, a cell phone started to ring in one of the rows close to the stage. It rang rang not once, not twice, but three times. The audience collectively sucked in its breath. Ms. Shamas suddenly stopped in the middle of her monologue to compose herself. She began pacing up and down the stage. Then, she turned to us, bellowing out into the darkness of the room, “If I ever hear a cell phone ring again during one of my performances I will throw it out of the room.” I was mortified. Who was the hapless patron whose phone had broken the spell? Maybe it was an emergency case doctor, waiting for an urgent call from the hospital to say that the heart had arrived by helicopter and they could start the operation. That must be it, right? Or, maybe it was a mother awaiting news that her kidnapped son had just been released by his captors. Those were the two only excuses I could think of for this breach of protocol. Had that person been me, no matter what the reason, I would have up and fled in mortification and sent flowers to Ms. Shamas after the show. Of course, the ringing was probably simply a case of “oops, I forgot to turn off the ringer.”
While we will undoubtedly continue to witness many more “oopsie” moments like this in concert halls around the world, rest assured I will not be one of the offenders. It only took one ringing phone in a darkened hall years ago for me to learn that an angry comedian is a scary sight.