Local Comedy in These Trying Times (Part 1)
It's been just about a year since I performed with Manic Thunder Improv in our last show at the 4th Street Theatre and the last time I was on stage doing stand-up comedy was this past November in Zillah. I was fortunate enough to help open along with Danny J & Anthony Hernandez Jr for national touring comic Eric Schwartz. Man, has a lot changed in the past 8 months. With so many businesses shut down, concerts postponed or canceled, plays & theatres being forced to just flat-out pack it up, I've been thinking a lot about comedians. Sure, a lot of them are doing their "gigs" from home, but for the local & touring comic, bars and clubs were their main source of income. Where some of the establishments have been able to re-open with take out service only, that doesn't bode well for the entertainment aspect. I reached out to a couple of my friends who are no strangers to the stand up and touring scene. I asked them to just give me a glimpse of what their lives have been like since the shut down. What have they been doing to keep the spark lit?
Yakima's own Jonas Barnes (Twitter @JonasBarnes, Instagram @JonasBarnesComedy) has been bringing the funny in New York for the past several years. He has still kept his roots well watered here in Yakima by booking comics for Bill's Place monthly Laugh Tap Stand Up Shows (as well as booking gigs in New York & L.A.). "COVID has effectively stopped stand up comedy & live performance completely. Obviously, it sucks monetarily but more than that, it sucks not being able to bring laughter to people during what has arguably been the toughest collective situation many of us have gone through in a long, long time." Jonas continued in our online conversation, "We still do what we can online to bring laughter to the masses but it's not the same. It's completely stopped the local scene as far as open mics and new comics go. We'll get through it. It's just a hell of a thing to adapt to as a performer."
When it comes to the financial issues that comes with everything being shut down, I was curious how he's making ends meet. He told me that between online creative content, writing articles, and the stimulus check, he's also been getting unemployment, like many others right now. It helps, but not much.
As I started writing this story, I realized it meant too much to me to just have it be a "one and done." Look for part 2 & 3 later on this week. Remember to laugh and find humor where you can, as tough as times are right now, it can help.