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What the Heck?! George Lopez's Abrupt Exit Illuminates the Dark Side of Heckling
STEVEN HEADSHOT 1
By Steven Sanchez
Published 1 day ago on
June 11, 2024

George Lopez performs at Fresno's Saroyan Theatre in 2019. He shut down his act early because of heckling on Friday, June 7, 2024, at Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville. (GV Wire/Steven Sanchez)

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Variations of the headlines were posted throughout the country: “George Lopez walks off stage disappointing fans.” The reason for his exit? Heckling.

Steven Sanchez Portrait GV Wire

Steven Sanchez

Opinion

The incident took place at Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville this past Friday. The comedian and sitcom star had postponed a previous show from April 20. This led to great anticipation for the show, only to see it end in widespread disappointment.

The affair has become a he-said, they-said ordeal.

Lopez and his team say the crowd was the problem. There was heckling to the point of making the comedian feel uncomfortable and the security didn’t step in to alleviate the situation.

The casino, on the other hand, claims that Lopez departed his set 30 minutes early, disappointing his fans who had traveled to see him live. Because of the exit, ticket holders will receive full reimbursement and two free tickets to an upcoming show at the venue.

Valley Has a Reputation for Hecklers

The fact is, audience members are increasingly crossing the line from having a good time to being out of control. And, I’m tired of seeing it happen in the Central Valley.

As someone whose job it is to attend shows, it’s disappointing to see patrons act in a way that can alter a performer’s perception of residents here. I’ve attended concerts and stand-up comedy shows, from small clubs to big venues. Not only can an unruly few ruin the occasion for those wanting a good time, but their bad behavior can cast our area in a negative light to performers.

Recent Incidents of Heckling

A recent example on a big stage was the Tequila Fest last month at Chukchansi Park. With tequilas and tacos, everybody was having a good time. Rappers Sage the Gemini and Busta Rhymes played their sets with no complications.

However, when T-Pain hit the stage, he stopped the show a few songs into his set. He was quiet for a bit. The artist then singled out an individual in the front row who was shouting at him to perform a specific song. T-Pain authoritatively reasoned with the guy, saying things along the lines of, “Other people came to hear me play other songs. Is that OK with you?”

The audience cheered, and T-Pain got right back into it.

The George Lopez incident, as bad as it was, thankfully didn’t cross another line: People throwing things on stage.

High profile people performers like actress Florence Pugh, rappers Cardi B and Drake, singers Harry Styles, Bebe Rexha, Ava Max, Kelsea Ballerini, and Pink have all been pelted with objects from fans.

Impressions Matter

So, when people ask why a certain artist hasn’t come to town, they need to contemplate the truth. The answer sometimes rests with us. Maybe the impression we made wasn’t a good one, leading the performer or band to vow to not come back. Or, they told others in the industry to not come here. Word of mouth travels quickly.

Live entertainment generates money and contributes to the economy. We can compete with Los Angeles and San Francisco for the top acts, and we often land them. But heckling, I believe, is holding us back. If there’s a heckler here or there in Los Angeles, it won’t stop entertainers from going there. They need the LA market.

In Fresno, we can’t afford to act like that. Impressions are everything. Incidents like what happened with Lopez can limit our entertainment options and shrink our economic revenue.

As for those who love to heckle and throw things on stage, I have a question: What’s the point?

There’s the performer and there’s the spectator. That dynamic and boundary needs to be respected at all times.

About the Author

UNLV graduate Steven Sanchez of Clovis covers entertainment and sports for GV Wire.

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GV Wire encourages vigorous debate from people and organizations on local, state, and national issues. Submit your op-ed to bmcewen@gvwire.com for consideration.

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Steven Sanchez,
Content Manager/Entertainment Editor
Steven Sanchez, a resident of Clovis, graduated from Buchanan High School in the class of 2007 and obtained his film degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Steven is a multifaceted artist, working as a filmmaker, writer, photographer, videographer, and published author. He has a profound passion for movies, comic books, and rock ‘n’ roll. A dedicated football enthusiast, he cheers for the Las Vegas Raiders. In his leisure time, he indulges in reading and collecting vinyl records. Steven is often found attending rock shows in town, a keen enthusiast of live music. He holds a special fondness for his grandma's homemade meals and spending time with his twin sister.

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