Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — or, at least, his fans — have been blamed for a wave of departures from Chicago’s famed Second City improv troupe. Four performers, including 33-year-old Henry Kim, have quit after repeatedly encountering hostile audience members.
Kim said that he has seen more audiences in Chicago (and elsewhere) use offensive language, attributing it to Trump giving people “carte blanche to act and behave hateful.”
The turning point, he said, was a male audience member at a show who was beside a Hispanic couple:
We asked a question to another lady, completely different lady, we said, ‘Hey, ma’am, what is something small that pisses you off, like getting stuck in traffic.’ He decided to scream out, unsolicited, ‘Sitting too close to a Mexican.’
Second City CEO and producer Andrew Alexander said that the company had “seen a much higher level of audience verbal shout-outs” over the past few months:
In 44 years of this work, I’ve never seen anything like it. The audience seems to feel like they have license in very unpleasant ways. Ninety-nine percent of people are cool. But the jerk who used to keep his mouth shut now feels like he has the right to say something.
However, there is no hard proof to connect Trump to the upswing in heckling.
Footage also surfaced of comedienne Amy Schumer being booed for criticizing Donald Trump. Schumer was jeered during her 16 October 2016 performance in Tampa, when she discussed her experience performing at Democrat Hillary Clinton’s birthday party:
Schumer can be seen pausing her story and telling the audience:
Just so you know: from now on if you yell out, you’re gonna get thrown out. If you yell out, I’m gonna say, “Throw them out.” So everybody point to the people booing.
At another point, she invites a self-identified Trump supporter onto the stage for a brief discussion:
When the unidentified man tells Schumer he’s voting for Trump because he “can’t trust Hillary,” cheers can be heard from the audience.
Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam C. Smith estimated that “about 200 people” left the show, based on his vantage point and observing people in the Amalie Arena concourse. Schumer addressed the audience exodus in a statement on 17 October 2016:
I loved the crowd and my show in Tampa last night! I want to thank the 8,400 people who stayed. We had a great time! We have always depended on comedians to make us laugh and tell the truth. I am proud to continue that tradition.