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Comedians working through the pandemic

How a travel heavy industry is adjusting to COVID.
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:00 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

The comedy industry is rolling with the punches during the pandemic, trading in travel for virtual shows over Zoom, as comedians get back to an industry staple: The college circuit.

Comedy is a field that involves large groups filling small, indoor spaces, along with lots of travel, both the sidelined by the coronavirus. Despite the country re-opening over the past few months, travel is still a dicey prospect, and it isn’t easy to socially distant in a comedy club or bar for a show. However, the return of the college fall semester, and more specifically, students to college campuses like SDSU, USD and many others around the country, has presented a considerable opportunity for comedians.

Maya May is a comedian living in Los Angeles, California, who is once again performing for college students around the country. But her “travel” now consists of virtually performing for students on campus.

“Colleges bring me in because they want their college students to stay in their dorms, so they set up these Zooms. They’re like college Zoom meeting except hopefully a lot more fun, and they’re great because if I’m at a regular comedy club, I don’t know everyone’s name, I don’t know what their bedrooms look like, or their kitchens look like, so there’s so much more material to work with now,” said May.

Instead of exploring a new city to acclimate to the surroundings of her audience, she researches her next venue online. She uses her kitchen as a green room to listen to music and get in the zone before a show, with an MC introducing her to the “stage.” Despite the new setting, May does everything possible to give the audience the feeling of a regular show.

“I have a slide show going of my baby pictures going, it’s like me as a toddler, so it’s like oh, we’re getting to know Maya and then when they introduce me it’s like, oh I magically appear and so I do, I try to recreate that feeling of a live show,” said May.

She says there are a few advantages to the new formate, like the ability to see into everyone’s room or home, using what she sees to engage the crowd. The biggest silver lining: Returning to the craft she loves, no matter what the setting.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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