Opie and Anthony have provided a great service to stand-up comedy by having comedians appear as regular guests on their FM and satellite radio programs over the years, but their efforts to translate that partnership into a live comedy tour, aka the Traveling Virus, has failed. Because their "fans" known as "pests" have booed too many of the comedians, and even the radio hosts themselves. The last straw came earlier this month in New Jersey with the only Traveling Virus show of 2008, when the crowd turned on Mike Birbiglia during his very first joke. On the following Monday's program, "Anthony points out that comics who've flown to IRAQ, risking both life and limb to entertain our troops, were afraid to subject themselves to a group of booing O&A psychopaths." Here is video from the Birbiglia boobirds:
O&A fans on the message boards have a 19-page discussion about the incident. But this has been an ongoing problem, from the horrible crowd in Philadelphia two years ago for Bill Burr, to the more recent Animation Festival where Dan Naturman got heckled, and even the non-Virus shows I've seen that featured a heavy O&A (or even Howard Stern, as in Artie Lange) comedy lineup. I have friends who love listening to either O&A and/or Stern and are loyal listeners. But there is a larger audience of these knucklehead radio listeners who have gotten it into their knuckleheads that it's supposed to be fun to yell and heckle and boo the comedians. Perhaps they think, like most hecklers, that they're helping. They're not. Or perhaps they listen to the morning radio and hear these comedians busting on each other, and think that if they can roast one another on the air, then it must be acceptable for an audience member to join in the roasting. Which doesn't make any sense, because that's not how you're supposed to act at a live comedy show. Especially when the radio hosts, who you supposedly love, beg and plead with you not to boo. Which is exactly the position Opie and Anthony found themselves in this month. They can continue to support stand-up by having comedians on the air, but I think it's for the best that they finally decided to put a halt to their pests and not allow them to continue ruining the live comedy experience for actual fans.