‘Visibly angry’ Trevor Noah forced to abandon sold-out India comedy gigs over sound problems

A “visibly angry” Trevor Noah was forced to abandon a comedy gig in India’s Bengaluru city after sound issues left audience members unable to hear the performance.

The South African comedian apologised to fans over the “technical issues” which became apparent as soon as he stepped foot on stage on Wednesday (27 September). A second Bengaluru gig scheduled for Thursday night was also cancelled.

Noah insisted this “has never happened before” and apologised for the “inconvenience and the disappointment” caused to his fans.

“Dear Bengalaru India [sic], I was so looking forward to performing in your amazing city but due to technical issues we’ve been forced to cancel both shows,” he wrote on X/Twitter, just minutes after he left the stage once the crowd complained they couldn’t hear him.

“We tried everything but because the audience can’t hear the comedians on stage there’s literally no way to do a show,” he said.

Noah is performing shows around India for his Off the Record Tour with seven gigs taking place across New Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai between 22 September and 1 October.

Noah has expressed his affection for India in his shows, but has also faced criticism in the past for making light of the country’s issues and for mocking Indian accents.

The recent incident in Bengaluru caused an uproar among his fans, who had purchased tickets months in advance, but mostly said they felt let down by the organisers, online ticketing platform BookMyShow.

While the show was to start at 7.30pm, it was first delayed as members of the audience remained stuck in the city’s notoriously bad traffic.

Antara Gupta Pisharody, who managed to attend the show after ditching her taxi and running to the venue, told The Independent that the show at the Manpho Convention Centre was off from the very start.

“Nobody could hear the opening act comedian because there was so much echo. The back rows couldn’t hear anything and at one point started chanting ‘we can’t hear’ which the opener thought was the audience booing him,” the 24-year-old visual designer said.

“So then finally Trevor Noah came on stage and immediately addressed the sound problem but he looked visibly angry himself and mentioned the word ‘refund’ then and there. But the event organisers announced there was a ‘delay’ and that we should help ourselves to drinks and food outside.”

 (Getty Images for The Recording A)
(Getty Images for The Recording A)

Gupta Pisharody also lamented the “careless planning” and the choice of venue that she claimed had more people “running on the road” like her.

“A lot of us had travelled from quite a distance to get there and like I said, more than one party running on the road to make it in time for the event would have been funny had the event happened,” she said.

“It just felt like careless planning. there are tons of better locations for an event like this and yet we were seated in an auditorium that resembled a school annual day auditorium.

“Even the women’s bathroom stalls were appalling, there was a line of 12 women that literally walked away.”

Other fans likened the venue to a “warehouse” with bad acoustics and a reverberating echo that did not compliment the show’s capacity.

Dhanya Rajendran, editor-in-chief of Indian news website The News Minute, said Noah repeatedly appeared on stage to check the acoustics.

“Before Noah, the audience flagged audio issues but the initial artist couldn’t catch it. But clearly Noah heard it because when he came on the stage, the first thing he asked the audience was ‘Can you hear me?’ And he was apologetic,” she told The Independent.

“This shows how event managers in India have no respect for the audience and are so comfortable passing off mediocrity,” Rajendran said. “There’s just a lack of respect for the artist and the audience.”

The organisers issued an apology for the inconvenience and promised a refund.

“All customers who purchased tickets for both shows will get a complete refund within 8-10 working days,” BookMyShow said in a statement.

“We deeply regret this experience that our valuable customers faced and hope to be able to bring Trevor back to this amazing city at the earliest.”

The Independent has approached Noah and BookMyShow for comment.