Roughly six weeks after closing the the club’s doors due to the coronavirus, Acme Comedy Co. has resumed live comedy. Or shall we say, reZOOMed live comedy (this joke is why we need professional comedy back ASAP).
This weekend, comedians Jackie Kashian, Pete Lee, and Greg Coleman will perform live from their homes as part of Acme’s Insider Zoom Show. The idea to (virtually) reopen Acme came from Kashian, who has been performing Zoom shows for her fans over the last several weeks in order to work on material for an album she plans to record sometime this year.
“I need to do standup comedy,” Kashian says. “I need to talk to people and get their reactions. And I know how bored everyone is, so it makes sense.”
Acme owner Louis Lee says that Kashian approached him a couple of weeks back with the idea that he could promote the event. Lee jumped at the chance.
“It is very important for comics to keep working on their material while every club in this country is shut down,” says Lee. “This might not be a live show, but it’s still an interesting way to see comedy.”
“No one is more supportive of Jackie Kashian’s career than Louis Lee. And that includes Jackie Kashian, who apparently also speaks about herself in the third person,” she says. “I called Louis and said, ‘Please tell me you’re going to reopen.’ And he said they’d be okay for a while, but if things stay closed for too long, they could be in real danger. So I wanted to find a way to help make money to keep the club afloat and also to make money for us [the performers] to pay our rent.”
After two sold-out shows last weekend, Kashian says the Zoom sets have been a hit with audiences and her fellow comics, although some need a little more proof than others.
“I’ve heard comics say, ‘It’s not a real show.’ I’ve done one-nighters in Minot, North Dakota, so to me, any chance to do comedy with people is a real show,” Kashian adds.
The format of the shows is slightly different than a usual Acme night (obviously), and they also come with a lower price point. For $10, you get a link to a private Zoom event where you can watch each comic perform 20 minutes of material. Aside from the level of talent performing, Kashian says the ticket price is helping to support both the performers and Acme itself.
The production value on the Zoom shows is also worth the price of admission, as the performers are still able to do crowd work and interact with their audience.
“We unmute like 20 people for the show so that we can hear their reactions, but I can also see everyone who is logged in,” Kashian laughs. “So if I want to talk to someone their name is right there on the damn screen. Last week, I saw a guy lighting up a bowl during my set, and I stopped and said, ‘Hey man, you getting high?’ and he unmutes himself and said, ‘Yep! You’re doing great, Jackie. Keep going!’ It was just really fun.”
Currently, there is only one show scheduled for this Friday at 8 p.m. But if last week’s shows are any indication, there might just be more added.
“Last week I think people who heard about the first show were curious if it was real. Then when that one sold out and they saw we added a second one, they knew it was for real.”
While she admits that it’s not the ideal setup for comedy, Kashian says she’s just thankful for the chance to perform.
“There are no hard and fast rules for comedy,” she says. “These shows are kind of like methadone. It might not be the real thing, but they still work.”
Adds Lee, “Someone pushed a comedy reset button a few weeks ago. We are now trying to adjust to the new world. Creative minds always work best when one’s life is filled with uncertainty.”
IF YOU GO:
Acme Zoom Insider Show featuring Jackie Kashian, Pete Lee, Greg Coleman
8 p.m. Friday, May 1
Click here to get tickets