We All Need a Laugh Right Now
Kristin Hall • June 27, 2020
It’s a bit hard to laugh right now. Despite the loosening of some regulations, we’re still having to keep away from extended family, friends, and, for many of us, regular life. Isn’t something funny what we all need right now? Most likely. We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, and turns out, it’s true. Researchers have found that laughter reduces blood sugar levels, improves immune function, and perhaps most importantly these days, reduces stress levels. It’s a need, not a want, science says so.
Here at SPG we are, of course, huge supporters of all-things comedy, and we want to share some laughs with you. Comedians would far rather be in front of live audiences, but since they can’t be, many have turned to online platforms. So, we’ve rounded up some of the best comedy from around the web. Hopefully you’ll get the much-needed laughs we all need right now. You’re welcome!
Late-night hosts were some of the first comedians to take their acts to online platforms. Just like comedy clubs, in-studio television was also cancelled due to the dangers of gathering in large groups. Without their live audiences and with the eventual closure of television studios, late night hosts including Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Samantha Bee, took their shows online. On YouTube you’ll be able to find all your favourite late-night comedians hosting their shows, albeit in somewhat altered formats as they are now hosting from their offices, basements, and backyards, occasionally with their children in-tow.
If you want to check out some sketch comedy, head to the always hilarious Funny or Die YouTube channel. Funny or Die was created by Will Farrell and Adam McKay and the channel is home to popular originals such as Drunk History, Zack Morris is Trash, a hilarious reflective analysis of Saved by the Bell, Lady Time, based on if the Real Housewives faced widowhood together, and Zack Galafinakis’ hysterical interview series, Between Two Ferns. The channel also features one-off sketches featuring celebrities such as Will Farrell, Jerry O’Connell, Ron Howard, Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson. Funny or Die is also producing new content despite covid, such as Long Haired Businessmen Video Conference, which is an amazing mockery today’s all-too familiar video conference meetings.
The Just for Laughs, the world’s most revered comedy festival (which is also Canadian!), also has a YouTube channel. The festival and its YouTube channel showcases the best stand-up from around the world, featuring legends such as Wanda Sykes, Chris Rock, and Rowan Atkinson. There are some performers who may surprise you too, such as Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak and Wonder Years star Fred Savage, who are way funnier than you ever might have guessed! The channel is very user-friendly as playlists are organized by topic, comedian, and even by era, so you can easily find clips of the best stand-up from the early eighties to the present.
Podcasts have become an increasingly important outlet for comedians during social isolation. While many comedians had podcasts before the outbreak, others have created temporary podcasts specifically to discuss life in quarantine. What makes these new podcasts really interesting is that while they’re funny, many are collaborations between couples. Aside from being hilarious, comedic couples such as Janie Haddad Tompkins and Paul F. Tompkins and Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, stars of the 2017 comedy, The Big Sick, use their (hopefully temporary) podcasts to share insights in to their everyday experiences with isolation, sometimes with brutal honesty, make helpful television viewing suggestions, and dole out practical advice. To listen to their podcasts, check out Tompkins and Tompkins’ Stay F. Homekins and Gordon and Nanjiani’s Staying In with Emily and Kumail.
Another great podcast choice is The Next Binge Thing with Amber Rollo and Gabe Pacheco. The couple used to be engaged, but split recently and are now quarantined together. Thankfully they are on good terms and decided to put their time in their tiny apartment to good use. They are now producing The Next Binge Thing, a podcast where they recommend what to binge watch each week while also discussing themes related to each show. From the crime-documentary McMillions to SNL and Tiger King, this duo dives deep to make sure you are entertained by both their show and the content they recommend.
You can listen to any of these podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
So, it turns out Zoom isn’t just for endless remote work meetings anymore! The improvisational comedy institution, The Second City is making Zoom a whole lot more entertaining by offering a series of live weekly shows such as Improve House Party, where improvisors perform from their homes and use audience suggestions to guide their performance. Other shows include The Really Awesome Improv Show, which is a family-friendly, highly participatory comedy show for kids and The Wednesday Works Break featuring Second City archival footage, live entertainment, and celebrity appearances. You can check out the show schedule at https://www.secondcity.com/toronto-shows/. Registering to view any of these shows is simple, just click on the show icons found on the same page as the schedule.
Don’t want to Zoom? In partnership with the streaming service Topic!, The Second City also produces The Last Show Left on Earth, which features Second City alumni and celebrity friends with a line-up of sketches, music, and rare archival footage. You can find it on YouTube at #LastShowLeftOnEarth.
On Instagram you can find yet another comedic-couple trying to survive quarantine together. Six months prior to the outbreak, comedians Taylor Tomlinson and Sam Morril began a long-distance relationship, with Tomlinson based in LA and Morril in New York. While on a visit to LA in March, Morril became stuck at Tomlinson’s apartment when they realized how serious the situation was becoming. Now they’re isolated together and posting bits based on their real-life experiences in isolation in the series, New Couple Gets Quarantined Together. To see all 18 of the short episodes they’ve created together, as well as their individual material, check out @taylortomlinson and @sammorril on Instagram. And the couple also has a new podcast called This is Important to Me, where each take turns showing each other movies they love or just want to see. They watch movies ranging from Harry Potter to Chinatown, and Ace Ventura to Thelma and Louise then discussion and hilarity follow!
Since late March, superstar comedy producer and director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy, Ghostbusters: ATC, A Simple Favour) has been hosting a daily cocktail hour on his Instagram Live feed. Each day from 5-6 p.m. PST, Feig, who is sometimes in the company of his wife and dog, dresses in his best suits and entertains viewers with jokes, dancing (alone, it’s really funny!) and just being himself while showing viewers how to mix a different cocktail each episode. Aside from being a famous producer and director, Fieg also owns and produces Artingstall’s Gin, so he really loves and understands what he’s talking about here. While I haven’t tried any myself, the recipes look fantastic! You can find the party at @paulfeig.
Instagram is also home to a showcase called Comedy Quarantine that helps to support comedians who have lost their livelihoods due to the outbreak by giving them an online performance venue. Each weeknight from 7 to 8 p.m. PST @comedyquarantine hosts a new lineup of stand-up comedians. While the show is free, viewers are encouraged to tip using the mobile payment service Venmo to help raise funds. What’s great about Comedy Quarantine tipping program is that the money raised is split equally among the night’s comics so everyone gets a share.
Are you looking to up your own comedy game? If so, you may want to check out either Steve Martin or Judd Apatow’s courses on MasterClass. MasterClass is a pay-for-content service that allows you to purchase courses put on by experts in over 80 areas including acting, singing, and comedy. So, if you’re dreaming of going to your first open mic once the pandemic is over, then you may want to consider taking a course with either Martin or Apatow. They discuss a range of topics including performance, writing, collaborating with others, gathering material, how to open and close acts, and polishing jokes for the stage.
Whether you check out one or all of these resources, SPG hopes that they bring you some huge, well-deserved laughs!