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August 09, 2020 Culture & Art During the Pandemic »

Max Cohen, Comedy Blog, The Office, Dwight in Hazmat Suit, Covid-19, Corona Jokes, Coronavirus, Comedy and Art During the Pandemic, Stand-Up, Comedians, NYC Comedy, Hit TV Shows, Sex and the City, Saved by the Bell, The Sopranos, Stand-Up Comedy, Funny, Improv, Comedy Articles

Culture & Art During the Pandemic

by: Max Cohen

This article originally appeared on April 8th, 2020: https://thecomedyconsultant.com/culture-art-during-the-pandemic/

This is a scary and uncertain time for the world, and a lot of us are taking solace in the seemingly unlimited content available on streaming services. But as our lives are completely changed, not every show or movie fits our new reality. Below is a short list of pieces of culture that I think need to be remade so we can actually relate to them again:

The Office

I can’t understand a world where people still show up to a business that would most likely be considered non-essential. Before you tell me that providing paper is essential, please first let me know how much paper they actually sold over nine seasons.

Everyone should be reporting through Zoom meetings. Creed would definitely talk too much about how he’s not wearing pants on the calls, and Michael Scott would upload amazingly inappropriate custom backgrounds like the inside of a hospital or a strip club. Jim would continue to terrorize Dwight by muting/unmuting each other’s mics. You see where I’m going with this.

Sex and the City
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None of these people are practicing social distancing! If they did now what they did then, almost all adult cases of Corona could probably be traced back to these four women.

Time to quarantine and chill! That could be the title for Carrie’s first article in these circumstances. I’m obviously no Candace Bushnell, but I’m also picturing Charlotte going on a baking binge and delivering her goods in more ways than one to the brave people working in the hospitals. That is, of course, until she finds out she’s been seeing a male nurse, freaks out and leaves for another hospital where she can find a proper doctor. Samantha tries cam shows to get her regular levels of attention, but gets disappointed when she realizes none of the men are brave/crazy enough to venture out and meet her IRL. Miranda just gets into some fight with Steve, again.

Saved by the Bell

All these kids should be learning from home! It’d be less interesting for sure to see bored kids staring at computer screens, but at least this new show would have more roles for frustrated parents who are trying to work from home themselves and also manage schooling from home.

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I just hope they keep ordering meals from The Max to keep that guy in business.

The Sopranos

Simply put, the mob can’t work from home like the rest of us. When you deal heavily in a cash business, who is actually going to have to venture outside to make the pick-ups and drop-offs? What kind of message can you possibly send over email that’s even half as effective as showing up with a baseball bat? Sure, the garbage truck/sanitation element of their business would still be operational, but we know that’s just one part of how they make their income.

We’d get to see Silvio trying to figure out Venmo to get some of his payments, and Bobby Baccalieri would be worrying about having enough hand sanitizer. Pauly would definitely be the one asshole saying it’s not a big deal until he gets it himself and beats up a guy to get the last ventilator around. AJ would finally be useful as he helps Tony figure out online meetings!

Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks
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I’m aware that this isn’t TV, but there are actually other forms of culture out there for us to consume. Case and point: I’m glad these people are supporting local businesses, but restaurants/diners should be delivery or take-out ONLY. Sitting down is putting people at risk!

These people should be in an orderly line, knocking on the door to pick up their food, and we should clearly see them wearing gloves and a facemask. They should keep the suits and dress, though, because boy did people in the ‘40s dress well.

Six Feet Under

This is actually perfect. No changes whatsoever. The title reinforces maintaining proper social distancing, and shows where we’re all heading anyways! It really has it all, including one of the best finales ever

Also needing no changes…
Edvard Munch’s The Scream
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Screaming at the terror of the pandemic, or the approaching people on the bridge? Either way, this guy gets it and I love it.

August 09, 2020 When Comedy Goes South »

Max Cohen, Comedy Blog, Stand-Up Horror Stories, Comedians, NYC Comedy, Florida Comedy, Key West, Comedy Contests, Stand-Up Comedy, Funny, Improv, Stand-Up Comedy

by: Max Cohen

This article initially appeared February 2nd, 2020 here: https://thecomedyconsultant.com/when-comedy-goes-south/

A lot of times what happens around stand-up comedy shows is more memorable than the shows themselves. This can be true especially for road work and festivals…

I went to Key West in 2014 for a brand new comedy festival. The organizer said he would take care of my accommodations, and get me a room right in downtown Key West. The room ended up being a crashpad for employees above the bar Cowboy Bill’s. I even had my very own futon! It was quite convenient to just stumble upstairs after a night of drinking there, and it felt just like I was back in college. Only less clean.

The next day the organizer told me I was getting a roommate. Rooming with strangers: I really was back in college now. For one sleepless night I shared a room with a biker comic named Suicide Ricky. It may have been a stage name.

Suicide Ricky regaled me with tales of how many felonies he committed the last time he was in Key West, and the hot waitress he hooked up with. I don’t know if his crime stories were true (probably) or if he was just a guy seeing how much he could scare a nebbishy New York Jew (a lot!), but I definitely believe the waitress part was true, because he told me in the morning he was going over to her place and then I never saw him again for the rest of the festival. I honestly do not remember if he even performed on stage or if playing the role of an extra with a serious back story from “Sons of Anarchy” counted as his set.

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Me performing on what looks like a porch.

The shows I was on were a lot of fun. I always enjoy seeing how my act does when I go from local comic in a bar full of tourists to being a tourist in a bar full of locals. The answer this time is I did well for all the wrong reasons. After most shows at least one audience member would come up to me, shake my hand, and say some variation of, “That was great! We don’t get a lot of ethnic humor here!” or the slightly less veiled, “It was like seeing Seinfeld up there! You know, someone from, ah, New York,” pausing before the end only to reconsider if they meant New York or Israel. It still felt nice to be appreciated. And looked at like some sort of novelty ornament.

To close out the festival, I was supposed to co-headline a black box theater. The organizer discussed it with me before I came down, talked about how excited he was to do it when I landed, but somehow it never materialized. It could have had something to do with the fact that he said, “Well it would’ve been a lot of work, and I didn’t want to do it.” It was a real disappointment, but it was it hard to stay mad when I was still just so relieved I survived Suicide Ricky.

The other big disappointment was that the organizer said he would reimburse me for my airfare, which never ended up happening. Lots of handshakes before I left, lots of emails after I left saying it would be coming soon, but that check definitely never came. Inevitably, I’ve found stand-up comedy is often a pursuit of just not LOSING MONEY. Anytime that happens, it’s a WIN!Shockingly, and maybe a bit of a spoiler here, I never heard of a second year for this festival.  

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With some of the comics.

Everyone involved with the festival was really funny, and very welcoming. At the end of the night as I was packing my bag, some of the waitresses at Cowboy Bill’s came up and invited me to go to a strip club with them after their shift. They wanted to include me in their night! I’ve never been so flattered to be asked to go to a strip club, but if you’ve learned anything about me in this story, it won’t surprise you that I thanked them and politely declined. One of them responded, “It’s okay if you’re gay!” which again, was the sweetest bit of inclusion for something that does not apply to me! For however backwards you may think Florida can be, just know that some waitresses were ready to spend a night at a strip club with an apparently gay-presenting straight Jewish comic from New York.

After my last night on that futon, I went to the airport to head home. I was waiting at the gate, and this couple sat across from me. They were staring at me intently. They whispered in each other’s ears. Everyone had been so welcoming of this exotic New Yorker who may or may not be gay, depending on who you asked. Was this where the friendliness would end? The man leaned forward, “Say, you were that comic at the bar, right? You were so funny! My wife and I haven’t stopped laughing at your jokes. You were great, man.” I questioned a lot of my life choices during my time in Key West, and it was a weird, wild week that managed to end on a really high note.

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Flyer from the festival. Good business practice: Always have the comedy show before Sexy Bull Riding.