By Sarah Dilworth
In a time of uncertainty, live stream comedy shows bring UMD students together during quarantine.
On the night of Saturday April 11, several UMD comics from different groups and students performed live on Instagram for an audience of comedy lovers. The live stream was hosted by Maddie Herron, a member of Sketchup, UMD’s premier sketch comedy group since 1996, who led the stream by inviting several comics to join one by one in a talk show style chat.
During the show, donations were also being made to raise money for the non-profit organization Feeding America. “I have funny friends who love to perform, and I thought it would be such a fun way to spend a night and raise money for a good cause,” said Herron.
Some of the guests included Ronuk Johal, Sarah Fagan, and Grace Goodman from Sketchup, Erasable Inc’s Brian Lawrence, Alex Parsky from The Bureau, UMD students Stefanie Abramowitz and Sarah Sabet, as well as Maddie’s sister Samantha.
When each guest arrived on the stream, they would do their own skit then Herron would ask them about their quarantine experience and if they had any advice for the viewers. Most took the opportunity to comment on the boredom they were experiencing and how they coped with it such as eating a loaf of bread, banging their head against drywall and hoping for the best, questioning the popularity of the game “Animal Crossing” and avoiding vegetables.
Many had some interesting suggestions for viewers such as Ronuk Johal’s advice, “step away from your phone and stare out a window” and Brian Lawrence’s slight rip off of the famous Teddy Roosevelt saying, “Speak softly and carry a large stick.”
“I think that the comedy community has had to adapt, but we are still proceeding with doing what we got to do. It’s a way of life that doesn’t care whether or not we can see each other in person. The urges to create and perform are still there,” said Lawrence.
In some cases, Herron would play a game with the guests such as “Hot or Not” in which she and Stefanie Abramowitz both declared vanilla scented candles to be a “not”. For Jimmy Fallon lovers, the game was very reminiscent of the famous “EW” speed round. Some of the other shenanigans that ensued was a live haircut done by Sarah Sabet, a British reenactment of the show “Love Island” using teddy bears that were “proper fit” by Sarah Fagan, and a live musical performance by Grace Goodman of her parody for “Liability” by Lorde called “Losing My Instagram Live Virginity.”
Despite a few technical difficulties such as Instagram’s 1-hour cutoff on streams and the struggle of adding people to join live, the show was a great success and earned many clapping emojis in the comments section. “I don’t understand the technology or how Instagram live actually works. Also, Wi-Fi troubles don’t typically happen in live comedy,” said Herron.
While live stream comedy is a fun temporary solution, many might wonder how this has affected the comedy community and where things might end up if quarantine continues over the summer. “Quarantine is inevitably introducing new ways to entertain and present content. Nobody can meet in real life, and generally, comedians and performers have the urge to be in front of and charm people, so naturally love finds a way,” said Herron.
While it may not be the preferred method of comedy entertainment, it is certainly helping everyone to appreciate our time spent together more. “It’s making us freshen things up and it’s reminding me of what matters. Being alive is a gift, everything else is less important,” said Lawrence.
There is a strong sense of hope for resilience in the comedy industry after quarantine and with the dedication shown already, everything will be better than ever before. “I think when we get out of here everyone’s going to just be like “ok let’s make the most of this one life” and I hope that brings a more vibrant energy to live comedy,” said Herron.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sketchup’s Facebook page.
Sarah Dilworth is a journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org