Vans Warped Tour has a demographic I don't play to often as a comedian. Here are some observations from 8 weeks of playing to this target demo in the comedy tent.
  1. Outrage without context
    Several times we had audience members walk by our tent and listen to a set up of a joke without hearing the punchline and would find something offensive. One comic has a great bit deconstructing slurs and a teenager tweeted to the head of the festival stating he should be removed from the comedy tent for the rest of the tour for being homophobic. When asked who the comic was, she tweeted she wasn't sure. She walked by and didn't stay to watch the comic, she just didn't like what she heard.
  2. YouTubers are a thing
    This will not be surprising to most, but I am a bit out of the loop when it comes to YouTube celebrities. Four of them were booked on the tour and their tent was a bigger draw than anything else at the festival. People lined up for 3+ hours and I saw at least one girl a day crying after meeting them and taking a pic with them.
  3. Recording
    Unlike a comedy club, we could not have a no recording policy or we lost an entire audience. Also, none of the comics have enough draw in the real world to jeopardize recording a special or album in the future. When I polled audience members on stage, they responded that they were taking snaps or wanted to replay a funny bit later on. Furthermore, watching bands perform, you could see a sea of GoPros and camera phones recording sets. Did it make any of the performers more self aware?
  4. Apologies
    A lot of hecklers, having not been to a comedy show before due to their age, apologized after the show. It was surprising and serves as a reminder that most hecklers are trying to be a part of the show and not ruin it, and hopefully this will inform future shows they attend.
  5. Progress
    Traveling through conservative parts of the country, most of the youth at these shows are pro-same sex marriage and pro choice. I don't think it speaks to the region, but it made me more optimistic on the future of social issues.
  6. Protools
    Some bands play to tracks. Some of the top bands on this tour have ProTools hooked up and pretend to play bass, guitar, or even sing. Not a new thing, I suppose, but the fact that it's transcended to a genre of music that doesn't demand much of such artists is appalling, depressing, and (oddly) not surprising.
  7. 80%
    of the shows went well. A lot of them saw live comedy for the first time and they loved it. I got to meet a lot of cool people. And the 20% of shows that didn't go well taught me a lot too. I had to have zero expectations daily, cause each city was a surprise to which ones would be fun. It also served as a metaphor for life. Even when it feels like we're in control, we're not.