“Without a live audience to give us self-worth we must find it ourselves now in meditation, exercise, and self-reflection. It’s goddamn awful, and I miss chicken tenders.”
As creatives retired to their lairs in March to shack up for what turned out to be more than three months of strict social distancing, some had an easier time than others adjusting to the so-called new normal. Generally speaking, musicians jumped in sooner than most, with shower shows and Friday night dance parties booming from the start of the quarantine. Stage actors have also made attempts to find the right approach to performing online, but for comedians… well… on the whole, it’s just been tougher.
“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,” local comedian Dan Martin told DigBoston in May. Andrew Mayer, another favorite of ours, added, “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.”
Though countless comics have continued pod- and livecasts they were already doing before COVID-19, and others have participated in exciting new streaming endeavors, as responsive artists, the adjustment process has nevertheless been tough. Specifically, it’s been hard to recreate the magic of the club—the crowd work, the stage, the laughs, even the heckling. Our team at DigBoston has worked tirelessly with our longtime partners at Laugh Boston to change that, and this Saturday, June 20, at 9 pm, we will present a powerhouse Boston show with four comics—Chris Tabb, Kelly MacFarland, Will Noonan, and Orlando Baxter—that will look more like a live stand-up comedy show than anything you’ve seen online to date. The performers will even have a virtual “front row” filled with people to crack on.
“This pandemic has been a real test of every comedian’s personal mettle,” Noonan told the Dig. “Without a live audience to give us self-worth we must find it ourselves now in meditation, exercise, and self-reflection. It’s goddamn awful, and I miss chicken tenders.”
“Coronavirus was like a new relationship,” Noonan continued. “At the beginning it’s all fun and new with Tom Hanks and baby tigers, but after just three months it’s lots of yelling and tear gas.”
Noonan has done his share of virtual Zoom shows, including the Helium Comedy Club’s Coast to Coast Roast, while others have also remained active. Tabb welcomed fellow comics into his Zoom Room Boom talk show, which he called “an attempt to offer a distraction with humor in the best way currently available.”
“During the pandemic I have time to finally get to the novel/screenplay/pilot about something which I’ll figure out when it’s done,” Tabb said. “I started my t-shirt and apparel company @flyfitfunny; I like t-shirts and clothes, so I figured why not wear some of my own. I’ve been doing some online shows, and people are still complaining about the service in the club … in their own homes! I’ve been eating and drinking pretty much everything on site and have cultivated a nice little professional pre-dad bod. I mean what else is there to do besides look in the fridge and cabinets, smile, and say, Oooo and what do we have here?”
And in her attempt to keep the laughs coming, MacFarland has done several fundraisers, including shows for the Center For Arts Natick (TCAN) and the National Blood Clot Alliance, and also produced 44 episodes of the webcast I’m Fine with Dan Crohn and continues to host the weekly 4 O’clock Funnies on Facebook. All while “working on material for [an] album recording that had to be rescheduled for the fall/winter,” MacFarland told the Dig. Her show with Crohn is currently on break, but will resume on a monthly schedule starting June 25 under the name We’re Fine.
Corey Rodrigues, who will join us for upcoming Laugh Online experiences, is eagerly awaiting the return of sports—“I never knew there were so many hours in a day,” he said. In the meantime, the Boston comic has been extremely busy since his last live outing at the Kowloon back in March. “I’ve been doing a family kids show on Facebook Live,” he said. Corey’s Stories also airs on YouTube from Monday through Friday, and features read-aloud segments, jokes, trivia, and funny special guests including Noonan and Samantha Merriweather.
In addition to Saturday’s Laugh Online show, there are several other exciting updates on the virtual comedy front, which is really all we have in Mass at this point since there’s no official date for when dance, music, or comedy venues can reopen. Nationally, TBS has ordered seven episodes of Tournament of Laughs, a virtual competition series hosted by Jason Sudeikis. That premieres on Sunday, June 21, and will feature 32 comedians ranging from Margaret Cho to Gilbert Gottfried and Paul Rodriguez “in a single-elimination bracket-style tournament, with each episode featuring multiple match-ups.”
Locally, Humor for Humanity with Jimmy Tingle and Friends will present the Ding Ho Comedy Club 40th Anniversary Reunion, Tribute and Fundraiser on Friday, July 3, to benefit Helen Crimmins, wife of the late, great monologist, comic, and polemicist Barry Crimmins. “The stars are aligning for a really unique comedy reunion,” Tingle said in a statement. There will be “clips and comedic riffs from a monolithic lineup of comics, all of whom got their start at the famed Ding Ho Comedy Club in Cambridge,” with a cast that “reads like a who’s who of the early Boston comedy scene, most of whom are still working in television, film, radio, podcasts, on stage and, given current circumstances of the pandemic, online.”
LAUGH ONLINE WITH ORLANDO BAXTER, WILL NOONAN, KELLY MACFARLAND, AND CHRIS TABB. SAT 6.20 @ 9PM. TICKETS AT LAUGHBOSTON.COM.