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NYPD crashes comedy show to detain audience member, heckle performer

This is no laughing matter.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 13, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 10:19 am CDT

The worlds of stand-up comedy and YouTube culture collide wonderfully in heckler videos. You could easily spend all day screening these clips—all the drunk insults and blistering comebacks traded in the seediest of basement venues—for while the fights can be ferocious, the stakes are often laughably low. Until the cops get involved, that is.

This was precisely the situation on Saturday night at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and it made for one hell of a Conan audition. Adam Newman, a scene veteran who has appeared on Comedy Central and Late Night With David Letterman, was recording a set when the NYPD arrived to arrest an audience member. 

Noticing the commotion, Newman jokingly asks if they couldn’t have waited till he was done. “Obviously not,” one cop replies. “Obviously, shut the fuck up, all right?” another adds. “Are you yelling at me?” Newman asks. “Don’t run your fucking mouth,” the cop answers. “That’s the weirdest heckle I’ve ever gotten in my life,” Newman concludes to uproarious laughter.

Later, Newman took to Twitter to shed a bit more light on the incident. He’s also having fun talking to the press about it.

Apparently the dude was accused of robbing someone, but once he was arrested, said the accuser was trying to rob him. That’s all I know.

— Adam Newman (@Adam_Newman) October 13, 2014

A reporter just asked me, “What kind of comedian are you?” And I said, “Poop stuff, mostly.”

— Adam Newman (@Adam_Newman) October 13, 2014

The NYPD, according to the Village Voice, has yet to release any information on the actions taken here, though it seems clear that at least one officer could use a refresher on how to interact with civilian bystanders (or how cameras work). We emailed UCB for further information and received this comment from press contact Kevin McLaughlin:

The Upright Citizens Brigade and its employees fully cooperated with law enforcement and allowed police officers to enter the theater on Saturday evening during a show. The police removed a patron for questioning, but as far as they know there was no arrest.  

This isn’t Newman’s first brush with an outlaw audience member, by the way—in 2012, he went through a heckler’s coat pockets and unexpectedly found a bag of cocaine.

Is there nowhere left for the law-abiding fan of live comedy? I suppose I’ll always have my Seinfeld DVDs.

H/T Village Voice | Photo by Napoleon Cole/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 13, 2014, 3:30 pm CDT