It wasn’t my first time to watch a show at the Theater at Solaire, but it was the first time I had to line up outside the entrance. It wasn’t because of additional frisking or anything nor were there a lot more people than usual—sure, there were many of us lining up to see Dave Chappelle that night. The line was because audiences had to put their phones inside a special pouch before they could enter the theater.

This grey pouch with neon green lining is called Yondr and it was designed to turn places like theaters into phone-free spaces. Before putting my phone inside this pouch, the attendant asked if I had put it on silent mode. Of course I had, but looking back now I wished I had turned it off. See, the pouch worked like a marshmallow test for those of us who have become so used to fidgeting with our devices, looking at it every time it beeps, every time it vibrates. Because I had put it on silent mode, it kept on vibrating, making me anxious. It had me thinking I may be missing something important.


Photo of Dave Chappelle by Solaire, photo of phone pouch by Yondr

But who was I kidding? When I watch a movie or a musical or a play, I always hate being disturbed by my phone or, worse, by other people’s phones. So this Yondr pouch was a welcome friend, even if it was a friend you would at times love to hate. It felt strange not being able to take a photo of the stage prior to the performance, which many Pinoys have gotten so used to whenever they attend shows—except plays or musicals because you’re really not supposed to take photos during the performance. So yes, Yondr made the experience so much better. Dave’s show was the pouch’s introduction to the Philippine market and I hope other theaters follow the lead of Solaire and adapt it too.

As soon as the show started, with two standup comedians as front acts, Michelle Wolf and Mohammad Amer, I immediately forgot that my phone was locked in a pouch. It didn’t matter. I was laughing so hard at the jokes, which I can’t tell you here because it won’t do them or you justice and I won’t be as funny anyway. Then it was time for Dave, who came on stage smoking a cigarette—it’s fine, it’s theater!

One thing I realized about watching a standup comedy show, and this was my first time seeing one live, is that you should be ready to laugh at everything, at yourself, at the world, at anything. Standup comedians leave political correctness behind as soon as they step on stage, and that’s not bad. There’s a kind of liberation that comes with not worrying about offending people and, even for just an hour or two, being able to laugh at what would otherwise be serious stuff provides a more than welcome (comic) relief. Sometimes, it’s okay not to be offended.

Dave Chappelle has a final show at the Theater at Solaire tonight at 8 p.m.

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