Woman Collapses During Pod Save America Show in Denver

Emergency personnel treat a woman who collapsed during the Pod Save America live show in Denver.
Emergency personnel treat a woman who collapsed during the Pod Save America live show in Denver. Photo by Michael Roberts
A woman collapsed near the front of the stage during the July 17 Pod Save America live show at the Bellco Theatre, as Colorado Governor Jared Polis was being interviewed mere feet away.

The "medical episode" caused a delay that lasted the better part of an hour as the woman was taken out on a gurney and a hazmat-style mop-up followed.

What happened? The woman, who asks that her name not be used, notes via email that "I had two grand mal seizures from lack of oxygen. Iā€™m not from Denver. I was stopping over on my way to Telluride for a wedding. I have a history of seizures." She adds that she learned at the hospital that "a boatload of people" helped out in her time of need, and she offers her sincere thanks.

In the meantime, the resulting program, which should be available later today, is likely to be one of the more unusual in the history of the record-smashing, politically liberal podcast.

At Pod Save America's first-ever live show in Denver, on February 8, 2018, hosts Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor, joined by Alyssa Mastromonaco, appeared at a sold-out Buell Theatre, which boasts a capacity of 2,884. This success no doubt inspired the Podsters to book the larger Bellco, with a capacity of 5,000. This gamble, on a hot summer weeknight more than a year from the 2020 election, didn't quite pay off. Bellco wound up about 60 percent full.

Nonetheless, the attendees on hand, many of them wearing "Friend of the Pod" T-shirts, were openly enthusiastic about the evening, which also brought out representatives of political campaigns (advocates for U.S. Senate candidate Dan Baer were present in force) and the folks behind Cardboard Cory, a stand-up version of Senator Cory Gardner that opponents have been toting around the past couple of years to highlight his failure to regularly schedule in-person town halls.

click to enlarge An impromptu message shared during the delay. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
An impromptu message shared during the delay.
Photo by Michael Roberts
The proceedings got under way considerably after the slated 8 p.m. start time, but Favreau, Lovett, Pfeiffer, Vietor and guest Erin Ryan, who regularly earned the biggest laughs, made up for their tardiness with blisteringly hilarious attacks on President Donald Trump's recent racist-tweet barrage and a version of the trademark Pod game "Okay, Stop," starring Kellyanne Conway bizarrely quizzing a reporter about his ethnicity.

Then came Polis, who charged onto the stage with boyish exuberance before taking a seat next to Lovett, the man tasked with interviewing him. After some introductory banter and preliminary discussion about Colorado's passage of red-flag legislation and the state joining the national popular vote movement, there was a disturbance in the seats to the far left side of the stage, with shouts, cries and dozens of people scrambling to get out of the way.

Within seconds, the lights came up in the theater and a member of the production staff hustled Lovett and Polis off the stage while attendees tried to assist the woman, who was vomiting and obviously in distress. At one point, a request was made for a glucometer, a device used to measure glucose levels in blood.

The room went silent, and for the most part stayed that way until members of the Denver Fire Department came down the aisle and began treating the woman and it became clear that her condition was not life-threatening. After she was taken out, a cleaning crew outfitted with face masks moved in to tidy up the area. Soon the heavy scent of disinfectants filled the venue, and it seemed to have an impact. Approximately fifteen rows back from the stage, a woman seated to my left became nauseated and had to leave.

click to enlarge After the show started again, the Pod squad debuted a new game inspired by Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
After the show started again, the Pod squad debuted a new game inspired by Colorado Senator Cory Gardner.
Photo by Michael Roberts
While this was happening, Favreau and Lovett occasionally got updates on the woman's condition. Ticket holders finally got one of their own by way of a hastily assembled graphic that read, "Thanks for your patience everyone ā€” we'll be back on stage in a few moments."

That estimate proved to be wishful thinking ā€” but finally, Lovett and Polis returned. Lovett explained that the woman had a "medical episode" but was getting the care she needed, while Polis took the opportunity to praise the emergency responders and the theater personnel who had removed "the mess." He also scored some political points by saying that what took place stood as an example of why health care should be seen as a human right.

To lighten the suddenly heavy mood, Lovett showed a humorously aged photo of Vietor made using FaceApp before jumping back into his chat with Polis. The most memorable moment came when he asked if Polis ever felt pressure as the first gay governor to "gay it up" ā€” a question very much in keeping with the way he talks about his own status as a gay man. There were always going to be people who thought he was too gay or not gay enough, Polis responded, but all he could do was be himself.

From there, it was business as usual, but with a distinct Colorado flavor epitomized by another game, titled "Cory Gardner: Moderate in the Streets, McConnell in the Sheets, MAGA Where It Counts. Sorry."

But as the audience filed out, the buzz was as much about the unexpected interruption as it was about politics. That's what happens when show business meets real life.

This post has been updated to include information about the woman who endured the medical emergency.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts