May 29 2020

In Philadelphia, Live Comedy Lives On

Hey, here’s a joke:


Two tall men walk into a bar… no, no… two ​small​ men walk into… nope… two ​very medium men wal… now, how the hell does that go again? You know what, I’ll stop trying and leave the jokes to the comedians.


They’d love to tell you one; all you have to do is… stay on the internet.


SNL pivoted. The Daily Show pivoted. Every late-night show has pivoted. Following suit, the Philadelphia comedy scene has pivoted with a move to online platforms.


“At first we weren’t sure if our format would work on Zoom since our show relies so much on audience participation,” said Kristin Finger, Artistic Director of the ​ComedySportz​ Philadelphia (CSZ Philly). CSZ Philly is a popular comedy theater that started running virtual shows about two months ago. “Thankfully Zoom’s chat feature has been an amazing way to interact with our fans!” Finger added.


Joining CSZ Philly are plenty of other comedy theaters and clubs. ​Helium Comedy Club​, ​1812 Productions​, and ​Philly Improv Theater ​host weekly online shows. ​Punch Line Philly​ has taken the social media route with Instagram Live videos featuring local and national headliners.


Although the feeling may be different than being in a live comedy room, many virtual shows are still interactive. CSZ Philly allows fans to comment in the chat during shows and even brings them on screen during specialized shows. “Nothing beats being in the same room together, but it warms my heart every time our ref says ‘loyal’ and everyone watching TYPES ‘fans’,” Finger said.


It’s not just the pro clubs that are making it work and carrying online. Get it? Carrying on… line. I’ll stop. Aghmmm, anyway, many popular bar shows that fuel the local scene have also made the transition.


Two popular stand up comedy shows, ​SUCS to Be Quarantined​ by ​Stand Up Comedy At Fergie’s Pub​ (SUCS)​ ​and Jose Pistola’s ​Nacho Mic​ ​are producing quality online Zoom shows. Every Sunday (SUCS) and Monday night (Nacho Mic), dozens of comics sign up to showcase their material and bring the liveliness of stand up to your living room, dining room, bathroom etc. They last a few hours and are free for patrons to jump in and out as they please.


Katonya Mosely (SUCS to Be Quarantined) and her team were quick to pivot to an online platform when the pandemic struck. “We are deliberately responsive to current events–esp. the looming mental health crisis and injustices against marginalized people–and dedicated to keeping it funny,” Mosely said. “We’re building out the team to expand our outreach across platforms, communities, and (dis)abilities,” she added.


So how do you support local comedy?


Watch online, laugh online, contribute online, and share online.


Live entertainment will sadly be one, if not the last, of our old pleasures to return, so supporting local comedy may be more important than ever. Many performers are taking a big financial hit right now.


If you want to lend a hand, we encourage you to click the links in this blog to learn more about each organization’s showtimes and donation options.


“We understand that things are difficult right now, financially for everyone. That’s why we created a pay-what-you-can scale for our fans,” said Finger. “Tickets start at $10.00, and if you’re able to donate more, we greatly appreciate it, but we want our shows to be accessible since art during these times can be healing, particularly comedy!”


She then added some final comforting words, “I feel so fortunate to still be able to bring laughter and joy into the lives of our fans, be it from our home into theirs, and hopefully someday soon we’ll all be together again in our theater!”


So, get on the internet and support local comedy if you can. Laugh at things if you can. And most importantly, if you can, remind me how that “small men in a bar” joke goes again.

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