The world needs four things right now.
First, medical doctors and scientists to bring us the vaccine against COVID-19.
Second, we all need to stay home and keep eating all those rolls of toilet paper.
Third, we need doctors, paramedics and nurses to keep doing their heroic jobs, saving lives even if many of the rest of us are irresponsible, careless, stupid or even malicious.
Last and, well, least, we need to laugh well. Laughter was invented by Mother Nature to keep us sane in situations like we’ve found ourselves in. Stand-up comedians for one have helped us laugh our way through the toughest of times (pandemics or even election results), and they’ve inspired us to see things in a new light in better times.
We all can and should change our comedy habits right now
With comedy clubs closed and tours cancelled, binge-watching Netflix and a lot of YouTube only solves part of the problem. For sure, there are plenty of funny stand-up recordings there, but if you watch the same names you’ve always watched, you’ll lose out on the excitement of going to a live comedy club night and seeing someone you’ve never seen before. Perhaps even seeing a kind of comedy you’ve never seen before.
You’re also not helping the economy to get better. Most people with shows on Netflix and large followings on YouTube are not materially impacted if a few more or a few fewer people watch their shows. And that’s not the case with many brilliant comics who mostly do live work (and whose gigs have all been cancelled).
Luckily there’s a solution or even several of them. Here’s how you can get entertained, keep getting some of the aspects of seeing live comedy and playing a small but important role in having the comedybiz pie distributed more justly and sustainably.
1. Sign up for a NextUp account
NextUp is a comedy streaming platform, a bit like Netflix but dedicated to comedy and mostly featuring UK acts who are not household names yet (but who are usually brilliant). Funny in more ways you’re used to. And great audio/video quality, no ads, and full shows, not 4-minute clips.
Some comedians I’m planning to watch over the next couple of days on NextUp are: Andrew Maxwell, Ed Burns, Jen Brister, Tom Stade, Lou Sanders, Simon Munnery, Tony Law, Joseph Morpurgo, Ed Aczel…
And here’s an equally important bit: NextUp shares 50% of your fee among all comedians whose shows are watched AND they use a good portion of the remaining half also for supporting live comedy. Right now they’re organising #hecklethevirus, a fundraiser for out-of-work comedians, for example.
Sign up for a NextUp account (they have a free 7-day trial)
2. Buy comedy albums and videos/DVDs
Yes I know it’s 2020 and we have no devices to insert mp3-s into. You can get many comedy albums on Spotify, Apple Music, etc but now is the time to first buy the comedy album and then listen to it on your favourite streaming app.
A couple of recommendations, too (biased towards comedians I’ve worked with but there are plenty more):
- Paul Foot has a two albums out on iTunes as well as via his website. Paul’s style is incredibly hard to describe, but hey, you can find out yourself.
- Michael Legge just released his latest show “The Idiot” on Bandcamp . I haven’t listened to it yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed his last recording “Jerk: Live in London”. Who would have thought that angry comedy can be so nice?
- Ben Norris just released “Moral vacuum”, a musical comedy album (for some reason I couldn’t buy it on neither Amazon nor iTunes with an Estonian billing address, but Google Play worked)
- If you’re in Estonia, go to Telia Videolaenutus and generously “pay per view” for any of Tallinn Comedy Gala recordings.
- You can buy the shows of Sander Õigus, Mikael Meema, Ardo Asperk and Ari Matti Mustonen via Comedy Estonia webshop
- Go Faster Stripe has a good selection of downloads from the likes of Andy Zalzman, Simon Munnery and a long list of others.
- Bonus tip! Or if you’re a bookworm buy “A hitch in time” by Andy Smart . It’s “A hilarious journey through the rumbustious early life of a comedy-circuit veteran, from Liverpool to Pamplona on a 72,000-mile road trip.”
(You may not know Andy Smart by name, but if you’ve been to see Stephen Frost’s Improv Allstars shows in Tallinn or have seen one of London Comedy Store’s improv shows, he’s made you laugh properly.)
3. Support your favourite comics on Patreon
Patreon is a site that lets you support your favourite creators. You’ll pay a small monthly fee that goes directly to your favourite musicians, comedians or artists, so they can be more artistically free to create what you like most. Not a bad deal, huh?
There are tons of great comedians to support, here are two I can vouch for personally
In addition to doing great live shows, Stuart Goldsmith hosts “The Comedian’s Comedian podcast” where he dissects comedy and the different methods behind the madness. You can listen to the podcast for free, but you’ll get extra content and access to the host if you’re a Patreon backer. Visit Stu’s Patreon page
Will Franken is a surrealist whose live shows are amazing and mind-bending and who now creates extra video content for his Patreon supporters. Visit Will’s Patreon page
4. Enjoy and support online live comedy shows that have started to pop up
Comedians are a creative bunch, and many are already streaming their shows on Twitch and elsewhere.
The Stay at Home Festival spearheaded by Robin Ince looks great and they’ve already booked acts like Sara Pascoe, Stewart Lee, Russell Kane, George Egg and many more.
Extra bonus tip. Listen and rate podcasts and videos by comedians you love (or even like)
90% or so of comedians get all of their income from live work and put out highly amusing podcasts, videos, tiktoks and such completely for free.
The very very least you can do is listen to a few episodes by comedians you’ve seen live and write them a 5-star review on iTunes or mega like them YouTube. (And if they mention a PayPal/Venmo address on the show, you know what to do)
A couple of shows by people I’ve worked with at Tallinn Comedy Festival and/or Komeediklubi:
- For runners, Rob Deering’s Running Commentary
- For movie fans, Films to be Buried With with Brett Goldstein
- Charlie Baker, several podcasts
- Alistair Barrie’s current affairs type videos on YouTube
Don’t just share this post on Facebook… do something!
There are good reasons for following the recommendations of this post all the time, but doing items 1-4 has the highest impact right now.
We’ll be laughing at this crisis some time from now but let’s laugh the right way right now. (This sounded very fucking self-righteous, but you get the gist.)
Two affiliate links in the post – any proceeds will be distributed between amusements mentioned. Photo credit: Margus Johanson