If you looked up at the sky at some point during Wednesday night’s Comedy Central Park, Live at SummerStage, you saw the DirecTV blimp hovering above the crowd. My first thought: A pretty effective way to reach the some 6,000 New Yorkers in attendance, as they awaited performances from comedians Jim Gaffigan and John Pinette. They’re definitely staying put, with nowhere to look but up.
Apparently, not everyone had that same thought. In fact, the sight of the DirecTV ad inspired the heavy-set Pinette to rework his intro, presumably from something food-related (a constant theme in his comedy) to something video-related. “Hey DirecTV up there! Come down here and fix my satellite!” he raged, calling today’s interactions with satellite TV reps “the death of customer service.” “It used to be, I call customer service and they come and fix it. Now, I call them and they say ‘let me work you through it.’ … I don’t work for you! I think you should come and fix it.”
Granted, the rant didn’t last for long. There was much about dieting and his aversion to vegetables that needed play. But the point here is that Pinette thought the industry’s bad customer service was funny enough—and widespread enough—to use as an act opener. Like food and dieting, it’s a topic that’s relatable and, at times, can be very frustrating for people.
And of course, this isn’t the first time a comedian has vented frustrations at a video provider’s customer service. Eugene Mirman, a standup comedian best known for his role in “Flight of the Conchords,” did a rant in May of this year about Time Warner Cable installing cable service in his new residence. The situation was maddening enough that he took out a full-page ad in the New York Press (and other pubs) and likened TWC to “a controlling, abusive husband” on an episode of “Law and Order” and “an ill-managed Soviet factory.”
Comics are great at pinpointing the topics we all grieve about separately, on our own—often in the privacy of our own homes. And subscription video, it seems, is one of them. Sounds like there’s still some work that needs to be done on improving the industry’s customer service—or, at the very least, some better PR.