(all photos by Mindy Tucker)
The return of live, in-person comedy is something that is, even now, pretty unsure. Some states have opted to roll back their lockdown measures enough to let some comedy clubs operate at partial capacity with several safety measures to ensure safety of talent, staff, and the audience. Yet, how live comedy is exactly going to come back in full from COVID-19 is a mystery, especially without a proven vaccine or anti-viral.
That being said, the ongoing mass protests across the planet against police brutality have brought people together, even in the midst of a pandemic, in an unforeseen way. In a similarly unforeseen way, live comedy with a big crowd, packed tightly together had its time to shine, quite literally. Michael Che put on a true live comedy show outside with plenty of daylight yesterday in NYC.
He took to the bed of a pick-up truck with a mic and gathered the likes of Rosebud Baker, Cipha Sounds, Big Jay Oakerson, Joe DeRosa, Petey DeAbreu, and Nimesh Patel to take off their face masks briefly to take the mic to a crowd in the hundeds. Actually, it was such a big event, it was the sort of live comedy show that you’d see at Outside Lands or Bonnaroo or any number of big time live arts festivals that were effectively cancelled for 2020 a few months ago.
Do not let your eyes deceive you. These aren’t some super slick backgrounds on Zoom.
This was a true live comedy show done during the most enduring, biggest protests across the country. Tucker, the show’s photographer, reports that there was a surreal feeling of everyone being together again as well as attempting to tell jokes/do bits after taking so much time off from a real stage with a real crowd.
Most importantly, Che ended with a message that moments of levity such as this comedy show aren’t meant to distract from marching or fighting for change, but more of a rest and a moment of joy before going back out there. Self-care is crucial to changing the world and that just happens to be one of the most important things comedy provides. We’re glad to see that comedy swooped back in to give people that are literally out in the streets fighting for the future some much needed emotional and mental relief.