What John Mulaney can teach us about bad UX design

Last night we went to see John Mulaney at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. We arrived at 6:45 to find two lines wrapped around the block.

I expected a line, COVID screening takes time.

What I didn’t expect to find was a second line inside the theater where people were taking our phones and watches and putting them into security bags.

I was really looking forward to this evening. It was the first time I’ve seen a popular comedian in a venue like this. Having someone tell me I needed to lock up my phone and watch(!) when I walked in the door did not prime me for a night of hilarity that I thought I was paying for.

In fact, it was so far out of what I would consider normal behavior that my wife and I didn’t even think to text the kids to let them know we would be unavailable by phone.

So, rather than settle into our seats, excited to see a really funny show, we sat down pissed off that John Mulaney felt the need to treat us like children. “He’s not that funny”, I thought before the show opened. Most of the people around me were cranky about it too.

Now, some of you might say “It was on the website.” Sure, it was. Did I see it? No. I bought the tickets on my phone.

Take a look at the screen shot and tell me if you can spot the information.

This was so far out of what is normal behavior I wouldn’t even consider to look for a cell phone policy before the transaction.

If you have critical information that you need to put in front of your users, make sure it’s given prominence on your page. Better still, put it into a confirmation box that someone needs to accept before continuing.

I can only think of two reasons that this policy is at the bottom. It’s there to intentionally mislead the customer or it’s a bad decision by the web designer.

Either way, a year from now, when the jokes are long forgotten I’m going to remember how annoyed he made me.



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Joe Cotellese
Product Manager
Joe Cotellese
Doylestown, PA

My first professional job involved playing video games for 9 hours a day. After experiencing early signs of brain rot, I decided to teach myself how to write software.

My entire career is characterized by this “why not?” attitude.

I'm currently the co-founder of AppJawn, the software company behind the amazing recipe organizer app ClipDish.

I also help transform companies into product driven organizations as a fractional CPO.


Affiliate Disclosure

On blog posts where I discuss products I may include affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and buy something then I get a teeny-tiny commission. As of this writing I think I make enough to buy a cup of coffee once every couple of months. 

I don't get any paid compensation directly to write product reviews. I think that's pretty scammy.