By Dillon Neibel
The community of stand-up comedians is scattering as many leave major cities across the U.S.
The state hit the hardest by this loss of performance talent is easily California, as a large number of stand-ups reside there so that they can frequent what is essentially the mecca for comics, The Comedy Store.
Because of COVID-19 and the governor’s response, comics are unable to perform in front of a live audience. Many states are allowing shows with reduced crowds and social distancing, some only allowing as little as 15 people. While some comics have tried different methods of virtual shows, many feel like it is not an adequate way to work material without the energy of a crowd.
Joe Rogan has taken his giant following from L.A. to Texas and has already set up and begun producing his largely successful podcast there. Stand-up’s favorite uncle Joey “CoCo” Diaz has ended his eight-year podcast and moved back to his home state of New Jersey. “Reverend” Duncan Trussell has taken his talent and underground cult-like following to a currently undisclosed location. “Rat King” Theo Von is supposed to be leaving Cali as well.
As L.A. stand-up regulars leave, the scene will surely suffer once things do reopen, and a great deal of many other comics have expressed interest in the exodus, as many of them frequent each other’s podcast, and the talks of leaving are on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
New York appears to be going through the same thing, as it is the second-largest home to comedy in the country. Ari Shaffir and others either already have or have vowed to leave the state, while the rest are in consideration of the same.
COVID-19’s response is not the only issue, it is also the fact that these major cities are hotbeds for the virus to spread. Not to mention the chaos from the rioting and looting, which while all the formerly mentioned support the BLM protests, most of them have families to consider, and unfortunately, residents of cities are much more affected by everything happening now.
Other factors include the exponential rise in homelessness in these places and the tent cities that come with it. The cost of living and overcrowding are also hot topics for reasons for the exodus.
I believe that the consensus seems to be that massive cities like L.A. and New York are hit the hardest in times like now and provides extended concern and uncertainty for those who live there. Even in more peaceful times, city living presents its share of struggles, but when it hits the fan, it hits it even harder the bigger the city is.
One has to wonder what the future of stand-up and the legendary Comedy Store will look like in this ever-changing world.
Graphic by Maria Martinez Nogueda