Will Berard is a stand-up comedian who lives with MS. In his latest blog for the MS Trust, he reflects on the impact the pandemic has had not just on comedy, but society as a whole and sends out a shout-out for stand-up worthy subjects in a time of COVID-19.
It’s heart-warming to see humankind coming together in this time of crisis. Divides are being, if not healed, at least temporarily set aside, and replaced by the kind of altruism I, for one, thought that modern life had all but stripped out of us.
Whatever the rift*, people are reaching out across it, and sealing a temporary truce with a firm... elbow bump. Although only a couple of weeks old, this joke is already out of date, the current greeting of choice under the two meter rule being, presumably, the air-five or even better a virtual wave via a video streaming app. It’s time to, if not kiss (obviously not kiss) at least make up. Even the generational divide is healing. If 2019 was the year of ‘OK, Boomer’, 2020 is that of the ‘Are you OK, Boomer?’
Needless to say, this is all a tremendous inconvenience to me, as the market for gallows humour has completely collapsed. I’m down to harmless puns and jokes about stockpiling toilet rolls. I think we need comedy now more than ever, but then I think this whatever happens. It’s a practical disclaimer before moving into “too soon” territory. But under social distancing rules, a couple of changes are necessary.
I think we need comedy now more than ever, but then I think this whatever happens
Performing is off, which is for the best, as sharing a microphone is now on par with sharing needles. And that’s just for the acts. The audience has got it just as bad, everyone knows the front row gets picked on, but few realise it also, sometimes, gets doused in spittle.
As to the writing, it relies on real-life experiences and interactions, even though the final result is, as it were, more apocrypha than canon. The very stuff from which we shape material is now in short supply. All that is left is writing about the situation itself, which is cathartic, but hardly the kind of stuff people want to hear.
So here is an idea to try to solve both of those issues. I have posted a call to questions video - I would like you, the audience, to come up with questions and prompts, about MS or anything else, and I will weave some stand-up out of it, performing it live from my study, over YouTube.
I hope to read from you very soon, so that we can, together, craft quality internet content. Hardly Florence Nightingale stuff, but at least it may keep us sane.
* In the UK it’s Brexit, but these days every country and culture has something similar.
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