By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4) – Next time you visit a comedy club in Denver, be prepared to lock up your smartphone.
“We’re so easily distracted and these phones are a big, big reason,” said Wende Curtis, owner of Comedy Works in Denver.
With so many people seemingly addicted to their devices — never letting them out of sight, capturing pictures of everything they can — some entertainers are concerned not only about distraction, but also people leaking their material.
“The larger the artist, the more likely that is to happen,” Curtis said.
Which is why comedian Dave Chappelle teamed up with Yondr, a company that created the pouches phones are locked in during shows. Guests keep their locked up phones at all times, but can only unlock them when they step outside of a showroom or into a designated area equipped with small unlocking stations.
“You put them on vibrate so that you can feel if you got a text or a phone call,” Curtis said.
Comedy Works in Denver began using Yondr pouches when Dave Chappelle came to perform in April.
“It was part of the deal,” Curtis told CB4’s Kelly Werthmann. “If I wanted Dave Chappelle, this came with him.”
Curtis said the pouches improved the quality of their shows so much, her venues are now permanently “phone free zones.”
“People were engaged again,” Curtis said. “I say again because there are some younger comics that have always had a lot of cellphone activity in their small careers. If you’ve been in the business for 20 years, you remember before everyone had a phone and before it was an accessory.”
The lockable sleeves are not just for comedy. Some musicians are jumping on the “phone free zone” idea, including Denver based folk-rock band The Lumineers.
Following a show at Comedy Works, CBS4 spoke to guests who had their phones locked up and found many guests pleased with the new policy and pouches.
“I thought they were great,” Alicia Uhler said.
“It was good because people weren’t playing on their phones and being distracted the whole time,” Lindsay Parker told CBS4.
Others were not so keen on the idea, concerned locking away their phone may cause them to miss an important call.
“This day and age I’m always trying to think where is my nearest exit, what if something happens, I need something,” Lauren Melius said. “What if I need to call someone? I didn’t really like it.”
Mike Davenport liked the idea of locking up his phone, until he realized he could miss a call from his daughter or her babysitter.
“So there was a couple times I wanted to check,” he said.
Curtis said she hears that concern a lot.
“Just put your phone on vibrate. Again, the pouch goes with you, so you just step out. It might delay you an extra 10, 20 seconds from getting that call,” she said.
More than anything, Curtis said the Yondr pouches help guests be more engaged and attentive to the show they paid good money to see.
“You’re here witnessing live entertainment, so be present,” Curtis said.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 Weekend Morning News and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.