Falling Stars: Celebrities Who Were Booed in Public
When they’re out in public, most celebrities expect to be swarmed by adoring fans unless they’re deliberately disguised. They love to increase their fanbase to promote their careers. Of course, that also means they live under a microscope, and any questionable action can lead to some heavy criticism.
Some celebrities have even been booed in public settings. Whether they delivered a disappointing performance or behaved atrociously (or illegally), they managed to inspire a strong wave off negativity. Fortunately, many of the stars who misbehaved learned their lesson — others, not so much. Let’s take a look.
Kevin Hart’s career has been on fire with sold-out arena performances and movie gigs. The Philadelphia native cut his teeth in New England before landing some roles, thanks to Judd Apatow. Whether it’s on the big screen or on stage, Hart always delivers some great comedy to fans.
Hart once delivered a peculiar stand-up routine at a crab festival in New York. Unfortunately, the audience wasn’t thrilled about his performance and started chanting “Let us eat crabs.” Hart commented on Oprah’s Master Class, “It’s bad when you start explaining yourself: ‘I was booked! They booked me! They told me y’all wanted me here!'”
In 2006, singer-songwriter Ne-Yo burst onto the charts with his number-one single “So Sick.” Since then, the artist has landed 12 songs on the Top 10 charts. Aside from music, Ne-Yo made a splash in the acting world with his stint on NBC’s The Wiz Live.
Before he achieved fame, Ne-Yo tried his luck on Showtime at the Apollo with his former R&B group Envy. Ne-Yo and the rest of the group tried their hardest to please, but the crowd wasn’t feeling it. Although they were booed off stage, it was a great lesson in learning to pick himself back up.
Comedian Bob Hope inspired countless others with his wit and delivery. On NBC, he was the master of many Christmas specials, which brought him wider recognition. Something Hope enjoyed doing was performing in front of the troops. For 50 years, he did comedy routines as part of the USO.
In 1969, Hope performed for troops in Vietnam during the war. During his set, he commented that President Nixon was working on a plan to conclude the war. With many soldiers in the crowd detesting Nixon, the statement led to a slew of boos — a rarity for Hope.
After being a back-up dancer for older sister Jessica Simpson, Ashlee Simpson decided to pursue a singing career. In 2004, her debut studio album Autobiography topped the Billboard charts and sold 3 million copies overall. In recent years, she returned to acting with roles in Pawn Shop Chronicles and Space Dogs Adventure to the Moon.
Simpson’s singing career will forever be scarred by her infamous Saturday Night Live performance. Months after the show aired, Simpson attempted to perform at the 2005 Orange Bowl. Unfortunately, the rowdy football crowd booed the artist throughout her entire performance.
In the ’80s, actor Charlie Sheen ruled the box office with roles in Young Guns and Platoon. In the 2000s, he jumped to television with roles in Spin City and Two and a Half Men. His television work earned him four Emmy nominations.
In 2011, the actor embarked on a national tour following his dismissal from Two and a Half Men for toxic, unprofessional behavior. His first live show, which took place in Detroit, wasn’t a pleasant one for the star. After getting booed for several minutes, he exited the stage and never returned.
Pop star Rihanna has been a dominant force in music since her 2005 debut album Music of the Sun. Whether it’s “Umbrella” or “Work,” fans have been jamming her music at every turn. The artist has the distinction of having number-one singles from seven consecutive albums.
At the 2016 Pukkelpop Festival, Rihanna arrived on stage an hour after her actual set time. That wasn’t the only thing that got the Belgium crowd riled up. The singer lip-synced most of her material and mispronounced Belgium several times. Let’s just say 66,000 booing fans can certainly make an impression.
After a slew of film roles, comedian Dave Chappelle found success with Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show. However, while filming the show’s third season, he decided to abruptly quit and walk away from a $50 million contract. After exiting the show, he made infrequent stand-up appearances across the country.
In 2013, Chappelle performed at Connecticut’s Comcast Theatre on his national comeback tour. Minutes into his set, however, the crowd’s continuous heckling prompted the comedian to retaliate. Instead of walking off stage, Chappelle sat on a stool and smoked for the rest of his set.
In 2007, rapper Lil Mama gained her highest-charting single to date with “Lip Gloss.” Following the release of her debut album VYP, the Brooklyn native judged the reality competition America’s Best Dance Crew. In 2013, she portrayed Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes in the VH1 biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.
In 2010, Chris Brown brought her onstage to perform a freestyle inside NYC’s Webster Hall. While she did the best she could, the crowd didn’t love her performance. While being booed is never fun, you know it has to sting a little more in your own hometown.
North Carolina comedian J.B. Smoove got his start appearing in 1995’s Def Comedy Jam. In the 2000s, he landed recurring roles on Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Recently, he appeared in Spider-Man: Far from Home and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Even with a stream of movie roles, Smoove still finds time to do stand-up comedy. At a 2018 show in Atlanta, he delivered joke after joke, but the crowd didn’t find any of his material to be funny. When they showed him exactly how they felt, he fired back at the crowd, but the damage was already done.
Controversial musician Marilyn Manson thrives on making audiences feel uncomfortable. For 30 years, Manson has performed his headline-making rock show in various cities around the world. Fortunately for him, controversy creates cash. Manson has sold millions of albums, including 7 million copies of 1996’s Antichrist Superstar.
In 2012, Manson visited Australia for the Soundwave Festival. Unfortunately, Slipknot fans weren’t happy to see him. Slipknot was performing after Manson, and the audience wanted the rocker to finish his set early. In response to persistent heckling, Manson wrapped up his set 10 minutes earlier than expected.
Comedian Paul Mooney gained fame writing for the legendary comedian Richard Pryor. Following his work on The Richard Pryor Show, Mooney wrote for In Living Color and Good Times. A new generation of comedy fans discovered Mooney when he appeared on Chappelle’s Show.
In 2017, Mooney made a stop in Dayton during the All-Star LOL Comedy Tour. His set went into bizarre territory when he continuously repeated jokes on stage. Things got weirder when Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw appeared to declare it Paul Mooney Day. Fortunately, the crowd got what they wanted when Mooney unceremoniously left the stage.
New Jersey singer Lauryn Hill gained international fame as a member of the Fugees. After the group disbanded, she began an acclaimed solo career with 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album has been featured on countless “best of” lists and helped influence the current generation of female R&B artists.
At 13, Hill appeared on Showtime at the Apollo to show off her stuff. Unfortunately, her talents weren’t strong enough at that time, which led to some booing from the audience. Of course, she deservedly gets booed frequently today for showing up hours late, but that moment in her childhood was a bit harsh.
Following his stint on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Drake left acting behind for a rap career. The Canadian artist has since become one of the most successful rappers in the field with 170 million records sold. Drake has also achieved success at the Grammys with four wins.
At the 2019 Camp Flog Gnaw, produced by Tyler, The Creator, Drake performed as a special guest. Apparently, the crowd expected to see Frank Ocean and was furious that he didn’t appear. When they realized Drake was the final special guest, the crowd turned on him.
Rapper Kanye West is arguably one of the most influential people in music. His ever-changing style of hip hop has influenced others to follow suit or get left behind. Despite his platinum-selling music, West has polarized music fans with his personal views and actions.
At the 2009 MTV VMAs, West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to say Beyoncé should have won the award. West capped off the enraging moment with a shrug before walking off. The audience couldn’t believe what had transpired in front of them. As a result, his co-headlining tour with Lady Gaga was canceled.
Boy band One Direction took the world by storm with hits such as “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Perfect.” Their lively fanbase couldn’t get enough of the five-piece act. In 2016, the band went on an indefinite hiatus while members embarked on their own projects.
At the 2013 MTV VMAs, One Direction won the award for Best Song of the Summer with “Best Song Ever.” Unfortunately, the crowd seemed to believe the wrong video won the prestigious award. As the group accepted the award, the audience began booing them.
Although the East Coast/West Coast rivalry was a staple in ’90s hip hop, OutKast decided to switch it up. The Atlanta duo gained a ton of fans following their 1994 debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Its lead single, Player’s Ball, ruled the airwaves across the country.
At the 1995 Source Awards, OutKast won for Best New Artist. This upset many attendees, who assumed a rising act from either Los Angeles or New York would take the title. Andre 3000 noticed the jeers and told the crowd, “The South got something to say.”
R&B artist Usher unveiled hits such as “You Make Me Wanna…:” and “Nice & Slow” in the ’90s. His 2004 album Confessions, however, catapulted him to huge heights with 20 million albums sold worldwide. The record influenced many upcoming artists, such as Drake and Adele.
In 2011, Usher performed in Germany on his OMG tour. During his set, he suddenly felt too weak to perform. He exited the stage while his DJ played Usher songs for the venue. Angered fans booed the artist for not delivering a proper show. The gig was rescheduled for the following night, but many refused to return.
Known as the “Queen of Pop,” Madonna still draws a crowd 40 years into her musical career. With more than 300 million albums sold, she’s the biggest-selling female artist of all time. As expected, she was a major influence on fellow pop star Lady Gaga.
In 2012, Madonna played a last-minute concert in Paris. Unfortunately, the crowd quickly turned on her because of its length. While many expected a typical Madonna show — with all the bells and whistles — the artist was only on stage for 45 minutes. Even worse, 15 minutes were spent talking about politics, so fans only got the artist’s music for a half-hour.
Canadian pop artist Justin Bieber got his lucky break at a young age. With the release of his 2009 debut EP My World, Bieber became an overnight sensation. Through the years, he has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide. The artist also holds numerous Guinness World Record titles, including the record for having the most followers on Twitter.
In 2016, Bieber brought his Purpose tour to Manchester. Because of the loud crowd, he was upset that he couldn’t speak (and be heard) onstage. Several fans booed because they paid to see him perform. Bieber dropped his mic and walked backstage, which led to everyone booing.
Filmmaker Michael Moore has ruffled several feathers with his documentaries. His first documentary was 1989’s Roger & Me, which was about the working situation in Flint, Michigan, after General Motors’ auto plant closures. In 2002, his documentary Bowling for Columbine drew national attention.
At the 2003 Oscars, Moore won for Best Documentary Feature for Bowling for Columbine. During his speech, he made unflattering comments about President George W. Bush, which didn’t sit well with the audience. Moore’s speech was cut short, thanks to the boos coming from the crowd and the orchestra.
Former X-Factor contestant Cher Lloyd enjoyed some success after the reality competition. In 2012, she unveiled the smash hit “Want U Back,” which went triple platinum in the United States. Following its release, the singer found herself touring alongside Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato.
In 2012, she performed at the V Festival. Instead of simply booing her, the crowd inexplicably turned ugly, with one loser pelting her with a glass bottle filled with urine. The singer exited the stage for a moment but returned to continue her set — definitively proving who had more class.
Based out of Texas, girl group Destiny’s Child was unstoppable following 1999’s The Writing’s on the Wall. With singles such as “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Say My Name,” the act found themselves packing arenas across the country. Destiny’s Child also won three Grammys, including two for “Survivor.”
In 2001, the group had the honor of performing at the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia crowd was upset about their team possibly losing to the Lakers. From the start, they were bombarded with boos from the attendees. It probably didn’t help that Beyonce wore Lakers gear during the performance.
When her 2001 self-titled debut album failed, Katy Hudson moved to L.A. to start her transformation. As Katy Perry, the artist achieved success with her debut single “I Kissed a Girl.” Since 2018, she’s been serving as a judge on American Idol.
In 2014, Perry appeared at Milan Fashion Week, but she didn’t show up at the right time. The entire show couldn’t start until the star arrived to take her seat. Perry was met with boos when she arrived 50 minutes late. The show went on, but Perry sat there embarrassed the whole time.
It’s hard to find a pop star bigger than Michael Jackson. Nearly every pop artist in the book emulated Jackson’s astonishing live performances. To this day, the Thriller dance is still a Halloween favorite at parades around the world.
In 2006, Jackson made a comeback at the World Music Awards. He was slated to perform “Thriller,” but he opted to sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” instead. The performance led to boos from the crowd, partially because Jackson did very little. The artist only sang two lines before accepting his Diamond Award at the ceremony.
Singer Mariah Carey was a ’90s powerhouse with a slew of Top 10 hits. Her greatest trait is her phenomenal voice, which has a five-octave vocal range. Very few singers out there can come close to her explosive delivery on stage and in the studio.
In 2016, Carey was booked for a gig in Leeds. Unfortunately, she arrived 45 minutes late, which angered the crowd. “As much as I hate leaving this fabulous bed at the @CorinthiaLondon, I am on my way to see you all in Leeds in 30 mins,” she tweeted an hour before her booked set time.
Comedian Kathy Griffin turned heads with her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. The series earned her two Emmys for Outstanding Reality Program. The show ended in 2010, but Griffin still performs stand-up routines in venues around the world.
In 2017, Griffin decided to wow the crowd in Dublin. To kick off her set, she said it was nice being in the United Kingdom. Ireland hadn’t been part of the U.K. since 1922, so the comment outraged the audience. Considering Griffin has Irish ancestry, it was a particularly embarrassing moment.
As Eddie Murphy’s brother, Charlie Murphy saw some intriguing stuff go down. In 2003, he gained fame for retelling these tales as Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories on Chappelle’s Show. The late comedian’s stories were the highlight of the popular Comedy Central series.
At a 2010 show at Grambling State University, Murphy battled a crowd filled with hecklers. After a while, he had enough and ended his set early by asking for his check. When it arrived, he dropped it on the ground and walked off stage.
In recent years, comedian Tiffany Haddish has been turning the comedy world upside down. In 2017, she starred in Girl Trip, which earned her an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance. In the same year, she became the first African American female comedian to host Saturday Night Live.
Haddish can still have some bad days, however. On New Year’s Eve 2018, she performed in front of a sold-out crowd in Miami. Apparently, her set didn’t make positive waves with anyone in attendance. Half the crowd booed her, while the other half simply walked away.
In the late ’80s, Bruce Willis became a dynamite action star as John McClane in Die Hard. Unlike many action stars, Willis actually has a diverse portfolio of roles, ranging from comedy to drama. He even dabbled in theater in 2001 and 2015.
Being asked to throw the first pitch at a Major League baseball game is an achievement. In 2019, Willis was given the honor at a Phillies game. As a longtime Phillies fan, he was ready to showcase his throwing abilities. Unfortunately, his pitch was weak, which led to an outraged uproar from the more than 40,000 fans in attendance.
Rapper Eminem has no problem getting folks to talk about him. From his lyrics to his interviews, he has stayed in the public spotlight eye for more than 20 years. In 2002, he became the first rapper to win an Oscar for “Lose Yourself” from the film 8 Mile.
At the 2002 MTV VMAs, Eminem drew backlash after winning the award for Best Male Video. The rapper started criticizing Moby, who took offense at the rapper’s lyrics in an interview. While staring at Moby, Eminem said, “Yeah, keep booing. I will hit a man with glasses.”