Comedy scene: Comedy in the age of the coronavirus |

Comedy scene: Comedy in the age of the coronavirus

Howie Nave
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Howie Nave (right) with comedian Bob Zany.

Stand up comedy in this new era we live in has taken a huge hit.

I think the reality of the coronavirus hit home in my world when comedian Bob Zany, who’s on my morning radio show every Tuesday for his segment, The Zany Report, texted me last Friday saying that his corporate engagement that had been booked months ago out in Rochester, New York, was canceled because of the coronavirus.

Less than four days later, I got word that Riffs Comedy Club inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino had been ‘temporarily postponed.’

Just two days before that, The Improv next door at Harveys had been postponed as well.

I like that word, ‘postponed.’ Before that the word had been ‘canceled’ but that sounded to finite. With ‘postponed’ there was usually a date like one week later when it was first announced the ski resorts had been closed. That made sense

Like a vaccine would be made available on the eighth day? Once the Center for Disease Control recommended that social gatherings of over 100 should be canceled (then updated to 50, then to 25) we knew it was all over for stand up.

I still can’t believe how quickly this all happened too. I feel more like I’m under house arrest than being confined to my home after doing radio. Most of my comic friends have taken to social media posting both very funny comments as well as some serious stories sharing what they’ve been going through as their outlet.

On the funny side, when Disney closed it’s properties comedian Erin O’Connor commented, “Disneyland disinfecting all rides starting with Pirates of the Coronabbean” and “Disneyland closed. Blame Sneezy.”

I particularly like my comedy on the dark side and will often turn to comedian Larry ‘Bubbles’ Brown. He spared no one: “We’ve just bumped you up to first class – you’ll be sitting next to Tom Hanks.”

When the sports world first considered doing games with no fans ‘Bubbles’ posted: “NBA thinking about games with no fans – following the business model of stand up comedy” and “I just tested positive for being annoying.”

My favorite though is Las Vegas ‘poet’ comedian Kathleen Dunbar who posted, “Locked in our houses with our spouses. People predict a lot of babies in nine months. I predict a lot of divorces.”

Of course yours truly had to chime in with, “Here in Nevada brothels have been hit hard w/ the CDC’s guidelines establishing a 6-foot distance between people in the same room” and “My ex-wife and I practiced ‘social distancing’ long before it was a CDC recommendation.”

Even my comic buddies who are also actors are not immune from the new reality as both online and cable networks suspend production of television and movies with no visible date in sight when they’ll resume shooting. How do I know this?

In the past 48 hours I’ve been getting messages from comedians asking if they can appear on my comedy podcast and morning radio show. My little Tahoe radio show. Expect some ‘name’ acts gracing the airwaves soon.

So, what can a comic do to have a platform where you, as civilians can still be entertained but more importantly still be able to laugh during these trying times to maintain some kind of sanity? Well, funny I should ask.

I mentioned to the aforementioned Bob Zany that what we need to do is come up with a safe way to transmit a comedian’s act via hologram sans any virus right into your living room. I’ve seen where holograms of dead entertainers are brought back to life on stage complete with a band or full orchestra at theaters where people actually pay money to see them. I remember reading in Rolling Stone this past September that a tribute concert dubbed, The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa, complete with a backup band of living musicians that toured and even sold out on many nights with people paying as much as $125 a ticket.

Not bad for a guy who died back in 1993. I say let’s do something similar but with living comedians who perform full time for a living. No open mic night comedians only the real deal.

We create an app, Comedians During the Age of Coronavirus (working title) and you get to see snippets of their act. They’ll be listed as family friendly, edgy, over-the-top or midnight blue (again, still a work in progress).

Let’s say you pick comedian Bob Zany. He’s pretty clean and his jokes have stood the test of time and are perfect for mixed company. You can pay by credit card or PayPal and Zany’s fee is in direct proportion to how long he performs for you.

The best part? The act will be custom-tailored just for you and your friends (that can’t number more than ten and must be at least 6 ft apart from one another per CDC guidelines).

Want to surprise a friend or family member who has a birthday? Simply access ‘Bob Zany’ and include whatever it is you wanna celebrate from birthday, promotion, engagement celebrations to celebrating a recent divorce, the DNA test that proved it wasn’t yours, and the four bundles of toilet paper you were able to grab from that 78-year old woman at Costco. If you must quarantine it doesn’t have to be miserable.

It can be something fun to do during this era of everything being canceled. And when we have a vaccine and you’re finally allowed to shake hands again your name will be placed into a special section so when ‘live’ comedy is available once again, you get a comped ticket to see Bob Zany when he’s performing in or near your city.

Are you ready to laugh again in a safe and controlled environment?

I am, so let’s get on it America, but wash your hands first, okay?

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