Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ann Coulter and Bill Maher - Speaker Series in Boston

Last night, I attended the Ann Coulter - Bill Maher program at the Wang Center. Debbie called me around 3pm with an extra ticket, and I'm always game for freebies. Oddly enough, I had just heard about this event a few days prior, and decided to pass after seeing the hefty ticket prices.

We walked into the beautiful theatre around 7:45. For some reason, I associate this venue with a Nine Inch Nails concert that I attended there in 1994, the only time I had ever seen attendees bleeding after a show. I believe Marilyn Manson opened that tour during a time when they were still "shocking."

I don't know the capacity of the theatre, but they certainly weren't sold out. A good crowd, nonetheless, probably about 70% liberal based on the event producer's informal survey of the crowd at the program's commencement. I must say I was surprised that it wasn't even more liberal.

(Side note - the producer established conservatives by applause, asking who "hoped to see Obama fail." It's a bit appalling that ANYONE would audibly clap that they HOPED our president would flat-out FAIL. Seriously? Even I didn't WANT Bush to fail. He just kind of did.)

Before departing the stage, the producer made it very clear that the audience should not catcall or disrupt the program.

Ann came on first. I find her fascinating and have even read one of her books. At times I see her as an attractive woman. At other times, she seems like a dude in drag. Tonight, she wore her typical pastel-colored knit top, super short-skirt, and teased her blond mane of hair throughout. She's undoubtedly a smart woman on two fronts - one, she does have intelligent comments and is a skilled orator; two - she is her own brand and knows how to market herself, whether or not she believes everything she says, she knows her audience and appeals to her fans perfectly.

After about 30 minutes, Bill took the stage and did his bit. That's where the trouble began.

He spent a significant percentage of his time either fighting back at inappropriate conservative hecklers in the balcony and in the orchestra, or watching a verbal fight break out between two idiots sitting a few rows from the stage. I haven't been to a WWE match in a few years, but this seemed just like one without the pyro.

The final hour was spent in casual debate format - Ann and Bill in comfy leather chairs with a moderator - some Boston professor, I believe - who was simply terrible, devoid of many basic qualities that a person in that role should have possessed (i.e. ability to facilitate conversation, good at making segues, speaking up, not stumbling over words, seeming confident, doing research on his guests, and even an iota of charisma).

Mired by audio problems, this second hour started poorly. I'm thinking "wow, people have spent $100-$200 per ticket for this event, and THIS is the quality they are receiving from the audio staff in the theatre?" It was complete amateur hour in regards to the audio glitches. No reason for any of it. Finally, someone solved the problem with Ann's mike by replacing her lavalier lapel microphone (a device I have always despised) with a handheld. During all of my larger focus groups held in hotel function rooms, I always insisted on a handheld mike, preferably wireless, to a lavalier.

They touched upon many hot topics - Bernie Madoff, stem cell research, religion and its grip on the Republican party, interpretation of the Bible, legalization of drugs, the economic crisis, Bush's inaction for seven minutes immediately upon hearing about the 9/11 attacks - basically anything that was divisive and created for entertainment.

I'm not sure that I left the evening thinking any differently about either person or either side. But then again, I'm not sure that was the point when you throw two comedians - one admittedly, and one unknowingly - in front of a Boston audience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was considering getting tickets for the show -- but there was no way I wanted $1 of my hard earned money to go to Ann Coulter. She is a despicable human being.