Do Andy Woodhull and I a favor if you’re going to see him perform at Goodnights Comedy Club in Raleigh this week: Leave your phone alone.
We know you like to post amazing things on social media, and we know your family and friends love you and want frequent updates on what you’re doing, but we think you’ll like giving your total attention to Woodhull’s stand-up act for an hour instead of instantly reacting to every noise and vibration your device makes. The hundreds of notifications and text messages you’ll no doubt get during Woodhull’s show will still be there when you get in the car afterward, so before you leave your Goodnights parking spot, or on the walk home if you live nearby, is a much better time to reply than while you’re in the club.
This isn’t an old man rant about how smartphones are destroying human interaction. I love my phone and talk to as few people as possible face-to-face, but when I go see stand-up comedy, I don’t want to be distracted. This includes unnecessary audience noise first and foremost, but during my last two solo trips to Goodnights, I was seated beside people who could not seem to go five minutes without checking their phones and the light coming from those devices was almost as annoying as table talk.
So until Woodhull is in a position to require you to leave your phone outside the showroom, please appease us by not only turning it off or putting it on vibrate, but also by leaving it in your pocket, purse, satchel or briefcase during the show. Not sure why you brought a briefcase to a comedy show, but if your phone rests silently in that briefcase while Woodhull is telling jokes, we’ll allow it.
During a Tuesday morning interview, Woodhull and I discussed how he deals with phones lighting up while he’s on stage, great Christmas gifts he got as a kid, why he and his wife can’t get everything their daughters want this holiday season and more.
Enjoy the interview, follow Woodhull on Twitter, and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: I interviewed you a couple of days before Halloween last year and now we’re talking during Christmas week. Is it cool if I pencil you in for a Thanksgiving chat next year?
Andy Woodhull: [laughs] Sure.
TC: We can talk turkey.
AW: Let’s talk potatoes.
TC: [laughs] I like to talk stuffing, all that stuff.
AW: Yeah, that sounds great.
TC: Do you remember getting any particularly great or particularly disappointing Christmas gifts growing up?
AW: When I was a kid, I got a bike one year and it was in this giant box and I played with the box for months after Christmas. I think that story is not unique to me though. That was the greatest present I ever got. It was big enough that I could be in it. I could stand up in the box.
TC: Do you and your wife get exactly what your children ask for or do you freestyle when you Christmas shop?
AW: I think we’re pretty good about getting them what they ask for, but there are also some things that we just don’t want them to have, like iPads. One of our daughters always wants animals. There are limits to things we can have in our home.
TC: If they’re asking for giraffes or hippos, you can’t get those.
AW: Not giraffes anyway. Hippos are doable.
TC: [laughs] You guys have a reserve in the backyard?
AW: It’s a nice yard and it fills up it when it rains. I think a hippo would be pretty comfy back there.
TC: [laughs] I spoke to your father in-law before a show you headlined at Goodnights last year. Have they seen you perform a lot and if so, do you think they enjoy your act?
AW: That’s a great question for them. I think that they do. My father-in-law and mother-in-law have been maybe three times. I think they like it. When I taped my half-hour special last year — my father-in-law’s family is from Boston — so he flew up to watch the taping and brought a bunch of his extended family that I hadn’t even met yet. That was really fun because they got to come backstage in the VIP area and stuff. I felt like a good son-in-law, like they were impressed with me. Like that one day of fun made up for my unconventional lifestyle.
They’re super nice and supportive and I like to think that they like the shows.
TC: I got a great impression just from the five minutes I talked to him. We talked about comedy crowds and I think I’m a good stand-up comedy audience member and he was too. Laughed hard, clapped, didn’t have any table conversation and stayed off his damn phone, but I swear, people stay in their phones at shows now. Do you notice it from the stage?
AW: I totally do. Two years ago, when you saw people doing it, you could address it and everyone in the audience would laugh at that person for being so rude and they’d put their phone away. The last couple of years, it happens so much that it’s not even something that I try to talk about anymore.
One night, this girl in the front row had her phone out and I was making fun of her and that was going well, but she kept taking it out. She couldn’t understand why I had a problem with it. It was unreal, but I don’t think it’s an uncommon point of view.
TC: They think, I guess, because they’re not talking that they’re not being a distraction, but that light (from the phone) annoys the shit out of me. You see those lights, right?
AW: I do. You hear about Dave Chappelle. When he does shows, you’re not allowed to have your phone in the venue. I don’t know if they take them at the front. I think I’ve heard of like envelopes that you have to put your phone in and lock it. I’ve heard of like jammers that they put at shows now. It’s an epidemic in the comedy community.
TC: It really is. Would you be for the confiscation of the phones before your shows if you could implement that type of guideline?
AW: Oh, Tony, I’m so far from being able to implement anything like that. That’s not even on the radar for the things that I can make happen. Before the show, I’m like, “Are my drinks free?” [interviewer laughs] That’s the level I’m on. “Are my drinks free and can I get a free ticket for my wife?” I’m nowhere near, “If anybody wants to see me, they have to leave their phone in the car.” It would be great, but that’s not close to where I’m at right now.
TC: Gotcha. I guess only people on Chappelle or (Chris) Rock or Louis (CK’s) level are gonna be able to do that.
AW: Also, they have a problem with people videotaping and posting in on the Internet, which is terrible for them because they’re trying to put out specials and millions of dollars are at stake.
For me, if somebody pulls out their phone and starts videotaping and wants to put it on YouTube, I always feel like, “Yeah, good luck. Good luck getting some hits. I’ve got like 10,000. I’d love to see you do better than that.” [interviewer laughs]
TC: Have crowds seemed different to you since Trump was elected?
AW: The day after I did a show, and the crowds were different, but not so different that everything that worked before doesn’t work now. I feel like everyone felt strange and I kind of just addressed it at the top of the show like, “Let’s talk about something else for a minute.” Big applause. I didn’t even have to say what I was talking about, (they were) just really happy. Divert their mind for an hour.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
I think it's more insulting and more accurate to tell people "You can't go fuck yourself".
— Henry Phillips (@Henlips) December 20, 2016