The Quarantined Comedian: Getting Through It
So...here we are. We’re quarantined with a VERY vague idea of when this craziness will end. There is no nightlife which is where comedians thrive; it’s quite a jarring feeling to have what we love doing so much be cut off so suddenly.
As comedians, this uncertainty can be soul-crushing. There are no real opportunities for stage time and everything that’s presented as a performance “alternative” just doesn’t compare to being on stage and having that audience to experience a live performance.
Sure, there may be news reports of President Trump saying we’ll be back in working order by Easter, but the truth is we are in a global pandemic so say goodbye to any sense of certainty (at least for a little while).
That being said, you shouldn’t allow yourself to go stir crazy. I’ve talked to so many fellow comedians who don’t know what to do with themselves since they’re not performing.
Here are some healthy practices to get through this period.
Focus your performance energy into your writing.
Performing is NOT the only component of stand-up comedy. Your writing is just as important IF NOT MORE.
Before this pandemic occurred, I have always noticed many stand-ups on the current scene are great performers but the writing part tends to lack. They put such a heavy hand on performing well so they can overcompensate for the lack of writing prowess. I have struggled with this from time to time as well. Now is your moment to write and hone that part of your stand-up because the foundation of a great comedian isn’t the performance...it’s the writing.
If you’re struggling with this (lack of inspiration is rampant right now) focus on your old material and rewrite until you get inspiration. Sometimes you have to facilitate that energy to get somewhere.
Take time to be physical.
One immediate thing I noticed while being inside is that I have A LOT of energy and being cooped up 90% of the time puts my anxiety through the roof.
I guarantee about half the comedians out there are going insane because they aren’t taking the time to be active and are just sitting inside kind of letting themselves go.
Instead of sinking into a deep hole with your own health, take that time to go for walks (it’s a stay-at-home order, not a lockdown order) or if you want to refrain from going outside do home workouts to get rid of your pent up energy. Some of my favorite exercise resources (often no equipment required) are:
No one is expecting you to become a super fit person after this period so use exercise, whatever it may be, as a way to relieve stress. Chances are you’re feeling the stress more than anything.
Learn a new skill.
Depending on what your situation is, learning a new skill can be a great way to pass the extra time while bettering yourself for the post quarantine time. For example, I’ve used my extra time to go from being a mediocre cook to being a pretty decent cook. However, if you aren’t savvy in certain areas this may be a great opportunity to learn something completely out of your comfort zone like new software. Datacamp is a great resource for learning new platforms that’ll only help you enhance your job prospects...and let’s face it, the market may get more competitive after this whether it’s in the comedy or any other industry. Skills are always going to be sellable. Know that.
Take FREQUENT breaks from all forms of media.
I cannot stress this enough, but you need to be proactive about taking breaks from the media (news and social).
Consuming so much media, especially at this time, is a bad idea because it can take you down the rabbit hole that just doesn’t seem to end: sensationalist headlines, misinformation disguised as facts, etc. Additionally, it can contribute to stress and anxiety which can severely damage anyone’s mental health. Social media especially can be exhausting because it’s primarily commentary and we all have that catastrophist friend (or hundreds of them) on our social media that'll just ruin your day with a triggering blanket statement.
Yes, I know. It’s difficult, but it’ll only hurt you, in the long run, to play into everything and those breaks can be the tipping point to maintaining your sanity at this time.
If there’s one thing to take away from this post, I hope it is that you understand this isn’t a forever moment in time. It’s only temporary.
I have faith that comedy will come back. Perhaps there may be fewer faces when we come back, but comedy will always be there and like other industries, it will recover over time.
People will always want to laugh and sometimes it takes somewhat of a reset to make the laughter that much more desirable.
Stay safe out there and we will see you soon. Got questions or something to add? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!