2020 wasn’t the worst year in American history, but great day in the morning did it stink like all the butts for stand-up comedy. Here’s a recap from a sort of retired whether I want to be or not comic!
March 2020 was the month that the coronavirus went from “oh, here we go again with the disease du jour scare” to “oh, this isn’t just hanging out in Wuhan and people are really dying” and the bars and restaurants and venues all shut down. Just like that, I lost dozens of shows, some booked, some in the works, some yet to be scheduled. At one point pre-children, I did 17 shows in a month. Even after, I still knocked out a few per month (usually) and didn’t have to take every bottom feeder show on Earth like I did when I started. I did two this year after February. On the same day. Two shows. (Full disclaimer: a lot of people had it much, much worse during the past ten months, just detailing how the comedy went.)
“Hey Chris, why didn’t you do online stand-up?” Quite frankly, I hate live streaming, recording sets, basically anything involving more tech than a speaker and a mic. That said, I was willing to consider it, but the results were more profound than I expected. Almost every single show/webcast that was pure stand-up bombed hard and fast. I did a few talk show/podcast type shows that were fine because I didn’t have to stand in my kitchen and act like I was onstage. Those dried up fast also. I even made a toilet paper shortage video and did two story hours, the last one raising over $400 for buying toys through Franklin County Children’s Services. It wasn’t the same.
The only shows I did were outdoors, on the same day, being the feature act for Donnie Baker. The chance to do a show was great, plus it was outdoors. The staff was masked and it was very safe for all. The issue was that due to the sanitation, the first show was at 2 pm and the second started at 8. That means when I walked off the stage, I had five and half hours to kill where I couldn’t interact with anyone. I went to my mother in law’s and mowed her epically large yard, showered, then went back for another show. To say I was rusty was an understatement. I forgot a punchline, like completely. Before March, the longest I had ever went between shows since May 2007 was three weeks. I hit the stage over four months after my last set. I haven’t been on since, which means whenever I get back, if I do, it will be longer than that.
This year cost me a looooootttt of money, but at least I wrote jokes right? Nope, not more than whatever I slapped on social media. Ironically, I had my best sales year at my real job, built the largest playground I could find for my kids and somehow managed to find a three day getaway with a pool in October that was socially distanced. So long story short, 2020 sucked for comedy, sucked for life and sucked all the creative energy out of me. And no, I don’t want to do a COVID related set the first time I get back, but I probably will because I have probably forgotten half my jokes. “What’s the deal with masks, amirite? Hey o! Tip your staff! (vomits in own mouth). Here’s to 2021, unless a civil war starts, then my bad 2020. Also, be nice to people in health care, entertainment or the restaurant/bar business. Without them, stand-up isn’t coming back.