Boston comedians Andrew Mayer and Dan Martin had big album releases planned. Now they’re contemplating what comedy might look like after the pandemic.
There’s no doubt that the quarantine has changed all of our lives, and for entertainers it’s already overhauled everything from our income to the platforms we perform on.
It’s one thing to be upset about your favorite event being cancelled as an audience member; it’s another kind of crisis altogether for most of your creative outlets to suddenly disappear.
Fortunately for comics, there’s always the album format, which can capture who you are and also create some revenue. For Dan Martin and Andrew Mayer, both of whom had album expectations changed due to the COVID-19 crisis, the trick has been to remain focused against pandemic odds.
Before quarantine happened, you were planning on recording a new comedy album, right?
Dan Martin: Yeah. The planned comedy special was going to record an hour of comedy called Raw Truth. I was going to be naked. It was going to be recorded at the Naked Comedy Showcase, which is where I regularly headline once a month at ImprovBoston. The title came from my mom who is now dead—nothing to do with the coronavirus, but she’s dead. When she wasn’t dead, and could speak, she used to ask me about it, “Like a kind of raw truth? Like you tell it like it is? Like that kind of comedy, the naked truth?” And I was like, “No, I don’t wear clothes.” So that’s what the title came from, an inside joke.
How did the quarantine affect your recording?
The whole thing was affected. They cancelled all the shows. It was supposed to be March 23; it took a couple of weeks before we had to admit that it was going to be canceled.
What were your emotions leading up to possibly canceling it?
I wanted to cancel it. I asked the opening acts, Matt Kona and John Baglio, and the host Andy, [and] they were like, You know, we just gotta be safe. Leading up to it, tickets were selling, and then I spoke with ImprovBoston, and just like that, the state was closing. So it was an easy decision because it was made for us. We were at least going to push it back, but now we don’t know what to do. I am in talks with them for when they reopen, but it’s going to be further down the line.
Are you disappointed this was postponed, or are you hopeful and positive that it will happen after this is all over?
I’m excited. I’m doing pretty good with it. Just being productive in the meantime. I talked to other comics, and a lot of us don’t really miss standup. Like, it sounds weird—I miss people, I miss that interaction, but I don’t miss doing my set as much. I definitely don’t miss open mics, the desperate feeling, or light crowds. I don’t miss all that shit that goes into it. I miss standup, but I don’t miss doing it.
Are you worried about generating new material during this shutdown?
I feel like it’s been very useful. Like they say, “A life worth talking about is a life worth living.” You have to live it. With the pandemic, the quarantine, and social distancing, there’s still stuff coming out of it. I’ve been able to kind of go back into stuff I’ve created before and make something out of that. I’m at home with my wife and my kid, and I’m observing how they’re going through it, and I’m writing jokes. So I’m writing about myself. And I also like having to go out in the world and I’m observing the world still.
When you get to do the Raw Truth recording, do you think you’re still gonna do what was written before, or will it change a lot?
Part of what I do is not written. When I do stand up, I love to have like 10 minutes of ideas in a 40 minute special that’s just floating around and is fresh. I have a couple of things like that for this, and I think that I’ve been fleshing them out. I don’t know, like it might end up being longer, it might be the 45 minutes, but it might end up being an hour-and-a-half because I’m pent up
Do you think it’s going to be something that will evolve into something that is different from its creation because of what’s going on?
Yeah, I think it would be weird to release an album after this and just not reference it. I think that might be weird. We listened to that comedian for an hour, and was he in a fucking coma, where’s he been? I feel like it would be sort of out of touch. I think it would be wise to use it as a reference point and just make sure it’s accounted for.
Instead of recording your new album, Raw Truth, you released Jesus Take the Wheel. Where did that album come from?
That was an attempt, but it didn’t end up coming out because that week was the most fucked up week. I wanted to do a recording. I planned it for a little while. And then that week, on April 2nd, my mom died. I had to deal with the funeral and shit. And then that Saturday I’m driving to Maine to do the show, and I still did it. When I got the recording back I was like, I don’t like it. I was just so depressed. So when this all happened and Raw Truth got canceled, I decided this should be a thing. I listened to it a couple of times, and I was really happy with it. The energy in that room was good. It was something I could put out and just be happy with it. It gave me something to put out on Bandcamp. It gave me something to talk about. People seem to dig it.
You talked about your mother passing away a few days before recording Jesus Take the Wheel. How much of the comedy was changed by the things that went on that week?
So much of it. Probably like 20 minutes of it. The whole Disney thing was all new. And then of course the whole thing about my mom—buying the casket happened that week, burying her, all that stuff. Anything about my mom within that two, three-week period leading up to it was brand new to the moment. A lot of the stuff I had previously, like the stuff about dating and my weight loss, those were staples in my act, but a lot of it I was going to stretch.
I like how you’ve been referring to your daughter now as your roommate on social media.
She’s the worst roommate, so inconsiderate. I was in the kitchen this morning making the dog’s breakfast, and she wakes up, comes downstairs and I’m in the middle of the kitchen and she just walks by me and if she happens to bump into me, she just fucking pushes me out of the way and she just goes to the cupboard, grabs food, starts trying to make her breakfast. I’m like, can you just wait two minutes? You can have the kitchen, bro. Listen bro. All right. She’s like a frat bro. She’s like, Fucking move, nerd! She just plows through the house and we’ve had it. So my wife and I are dealing with that, but the wife is good. The wife and I love canceling stuff, so it’s been great.
Do you feel like COVID has taken away the opportunity to cancel things?
It’s really made us more considerate and that sucks.
Before all of this, you were already working from home, how have things changed?
Andrew Mayer: It’s different because there’s nowhere to go after work. At that time I did not like it, and was very excited to go back to an office when I joined my new job. So it is not necessarily foreign to me, but it is sad.
Right now has not been the ideal time to release a comedy album, but you had this already planned in advance, right?
Oh yeah. I’m very fortunate to have been able to record it just before everything. This big project that I was planning actually did happen just before the cutoff.
Why did you decide to record Having a Nice Time at the Comedy Studio?
I’ve been performing there for years and did my first album there in 2015. It’s the right size for me in terms of being able to fill it with a supportive crowd, some of whom know who I am, but also probably get some strangers that are a bit harder for me to draw at bigger clubs.
When quarantine started happening, was pushing the release back a conversation you had, was that something you were considering?
I don’t think the release date itself ever changed because most of the revenue from an album at this point is streaming revenue. And that seemed to be fairly unaffected by this. The main things that were changed were like hard copy production because most of that it was shut down for the time being.
Do you feel that the COVID-19 situation affected your release in any way?
It’s hard to say because there hasn’t been a sort of a control group to compare it against. But I think maybe it all cancels out in the end I feel like some people are a little bit extra excited to hear something right now, but then are also perhaps an equal amount of stressed out to cancel that part out. And honestly, part of the, it’s not that big a coincidence that the release date was the day before my birthday, just just to be like, Hey everyone, look at me also, I have a CD that’s coming out. And, and that, that was also part of why I think that plan didn’t necessarily change.
Has there been any negative feedback? Are you seeing that from somebody, or is that just our own comedian brains always waiting for the negative posts in the comment section?
Yeah, that hater might just be made up by myself, but I have not seen any negative feedback because of it. It just feels weird to try to market anything right now.
Was there a planned album release show party, some kind of live event before all this?
Yeah, I had a couple of release party shows on the weekend, just sort of touring around venues in Boston that I liked. Nothing too crazy, but I was hoping to have some merchandise.
Are you going to still do that when all of this ends?
I don’t think so. I think that moment will have passed. I’ve found it difficult to be really that creative during this whole time when like 50% of my mental energy was devoted towards the coronavirus. Hopefully I’ll have some new things to talk about by the time this is done and I can start a new project.
Are you concerned after this is all done, not being able to generate new, relevant material?
You know that I work from home, or that I did work from home, because of a bit that is on the album that just came out about how lonely it is to work from home. And so that is sort of what I have to say about what’s going on right now. A lot of that stuff has already been said at this point. I don’t know if I really am looking to write about my life during isolation.