Hey! Have you noticed the world is bad? It’s bad! And usually when things are bad you can go watch a comedy show and laugh and feel better and comedians can perform on a comedy show and hear laughs and feel better. It’s a perfect relationship! But, because of a dystopian highly contagious virus, what we have right now is a weird environmentally enforced situation where comics can’t perform, which means they can’t be watched by people like you, which not only makes everybody feel bad, but also ruins the very precarious financial house of cards we comedians built when we pursued an artistic career. So, I have compiled a list of ways you can help this very funny yet very suicidal group of folks!
Comedians make a lot of things! Albums are always a great purchase—they let you own those laughs! They’re your laughs now! Merch is also great; t-shirts that say “who farted?” or have a screenprinted drawing of four white guys you don’t know, throw 20 dollars at that!! Stickers, buttons, tote bags, customized sex toys, etc. My friend Andrew Michael (a comic from Atlanta) is making customizable cross-stitches that say things like “Please Don’t Do Coke In The Bathroom.” Lots of people have so many cool things like that, and here is a resource that will be aggregating a bunch.. Also if there is a club/venue near you that you usually go to but is now closed, go to their website and see who was booked; you can then go to their website and see if they have merch or an album you can buy.
It’s kind of fucked up but since the late night model went out the window, many companies look at follow counts when choosing who to hire (they see it as “proof of an audience”). So what seems like a very stupid and arbitrary thing, like how many people follow you on Instagram or Twitter, actually translates to real jobs for people in entertainment. If you see someone you like, find them online and follow!
This is kind of a numbers thing too, but if someone’s album is on Spotify they get dividends from how many times it streams. I think it’s fractions of a cent, but put that baby on mute and let it play while you sleep! This also makes us look popular to an algorithm which is the only way to be successful now!
A lot of comics get money from going on the road and working clubs, or doing festivals, bar shows, or other performances. We (fingers crossed!!) get money for doing comedy. With everything cancelled because the whole world has turned into a bad Will Smith movie (of which, to be clear, there are none) the money is, ah, how you say? Notta there. This is where you come in! A great kindness during this time, is if you have friends who are comedians and they post something that makes you happy for one beautiful second (and you are in a financial position to do so), is to throw them some bones! I made a silly fake video about working out while quarantined (here it is if you’re interested) that a friend said made her laugh and she sent me 20 dollars. Letting people know you appreciate them through monetary means right now is huge. If you do not know any comedians, first of all congratulations, and second, here is a Google doc that a comic in LA compiled that has folks from all over, that you could also donate to.
Part of being an artist is living on the edge. And by edge I do mean we’re mostly all uninsured and with little to no financial security. When you are out four to seven nights a week until 1:00am or later, it’s not really sustainable to work a 9-5. Most comics hustle and do side jobs or a weird amalgamation of other things to make money along with comedy. Surprise, most of us aren’t secretly rich (usually you can tell from Instagram who is though!). Add your voice to the many who think that if over half the workforce can’t do their jobs, it makes sense to halt collections on these necessities. This is a fun one because it doesn’t just help comedians, it helps most people!
Here’s one where you can write to Congress.
Here’s one where you can search by state, and here’s one specifically for New York.
After everything I’ve said so far you probably don’t think this is a big one but remember how I said we were a really suicidal bunch? Well, that’s very true, and isolation, the loss of jobs, uncertainty about the future, stress about if you’re going to accidentally kill your mom if you go over for a hot dog, and pretty much everything else about the current situation are shitty for anyone, let alone someone who’s already struggling with mental health. Remember learning about the rats they taught to like cocaine (actually I think the rats already loved cocaine), or to push a bell because they gave them cocaine? Something with that? It was an experiment about gratification and rewards, I don’t remember, but somehow the rats had cocaine and it was for science. MANY, many comedians use social media as a platform to test material and jokes, and ‘likes’ are the rat cocaine for us at the end of the tube (was there a tube?). It feels nice to see your friends like a dumb joke you make about how your period is like pizza rolls because in high school it was everywhere but now that you’re 30 it only takes up a small corner in the back of your freezer (this is a joke about freezing your eggs). Be generous with that shit! What are you waiting for? It’s the end times! Like your friends’ period jokes!!!
This is the most direct and easy one and honestly it should be higher on the list but everyone makes mistakes. This is a direct way to tell someone, Hey, I like what you’re doing so much I will financially support you doing it. This can be someone’s podcast that you get a secret episode of, or full videos and essays you can unlock from people—to be honest I don’t fully know how they work because I have never had enough money to subscribe, but I see people posting about them all the time. It’s like a magazine subscription to your friend (or an artist you like’s) brain. They vary but I know there’s ones that can be as low as one or five dollars a month. Some are feet pictures!! (You should also support sex workers during this time but that’s a whole other article!)
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you like stuff, share it! Retweet it, post it on your Facebook or Instagram, or even just tell people about it over the phone or email or however you’re staying social. It helps us get a larger reach and maybe there’s someone who follows you who is rich that will love us and want to send us money for pictures of our feet! Or jokes, whatever.
Ok not in a weird way but if someone is cute maybe you should ask them out on a virtual date and maybe in two months you can have skype sex!! Everyone is lonely!! I don’t know!! Don’t harass people though, and if that feels like a difficult distinction for you please do some heavy googling about active consent. When you’re a comic you have no HR dept to report harassment and assault to, so this may not seem related, but a higher general EQ about consent would actually help us a lot and a forced population divide is perhaps a time for you to educate then re-enter society informed and educated! You love to see it.
This is the coolest fucking thing!! I have seen a bunch of these popping up, most on Instagram Live, but kind of on anything—Zoom, Twitch, wherever you can stream. Jordan Scott Huggins (comic from New York by way of North Carolina) did the first of a weekly show on 4/18 at 7:00pm EST in Charlotte, NC, called Quarantined Live, that featured 30 comedians each doing a minute on Instagram Live. There’s a bunch coming up all over the place. Here’s a lil schedule:
March 19 from 6-9:00pm in Los Angeles, organized by Theresa Lee. The info is on Instagram.
There’s two on Friday, March 20: at 7:30pm PST on Zoom hosted by Zara Khan in L.A. on Zoom (make sure to download the app before!). Here’s a link to the show.
There’s another at 8:00pm put on by Emma Pace Jonas and Julie Shadlow in Oregon! Here’s the Facebook event.
And Ben Bailey, from that Cash Cab show, is doing one tonight, Wednesday March 18 at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch that here.
You can search “virtual open mic comedy” or “virtual comedy show” on google or Facebook to find more dates! Also if you followed comedians on Instagram you would get a notification when they did a live stream.
Hm yes so this one might feel like it doesn’t fit or like I snuck it in here, but in truth one of the best ways to support a vulnerable population (and oh baby are we vulnerable!!) is by saying you believe in their unobstructed right to basic human needs like healthcare, food security, a living wage, etc. What’s the deal with airline food?? Jerry, the world has changed and you’re worth 950 million dollars. They don’t even serve food on airplanes anymore!! More like, what’s the deal with wealth distribution amirite???
Okay, that’s it, thank you for listening! My twitter is @Juliepoptart and my Venmo is @Julie-Mitchell. Yes, I am testing your reading comprehension!!!
Julie Mitchell is a comedian and writer in New York. Follow her on Twitter @juliepoptart.