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Making strangers laugh again

Theatre | October 7th, 2020

By Scott Ecker

notharrisonford@gmail.com

Like many artists the quarantine seemed like a great opportunity to finally get around to some writing. I mean what else was I going to do? Looking on the bright side of oblivion, I could at least be productive.

I did a fair amount of writing that I am happy with. But overall COVID hasn’t been a great motivator. Part of it is that there isn’t a safe way to interact with an audience. My background is in improv, which I believe was created to give insecure people the quickest form of instant gratification. I’ve been missing that high for most of this year.

There have still been opportunities, like participating in one of Theatre B’s “B at Home” installments. But even that was one rehearsal for one performance. For that virtual play there was no in person interaction with anyone else in the show. The audience laughter came after the performance when my wife and I watched ourselves in the stream.

Art has generally been on hold or repurposed for most of this year. However business was only briefly slowed down. The stimulus check was a one-time distraction and all other expenses have continued. So I’ve needed to continue working. Surprisingly that’s where I have found that missing audience interaction.

Weddings started up again in July and I’ve had many gigs as a reception DJ. It is a nerve-wracking way to make money, as weddings tend to be common spreaders. But I still need to make money somewhere and this is a way to do that while getting a response from others. I wish those others would also wear masks and not approach me so freely. But I am truly getting something that I was missing from their dancing and laughter.

I’ve recently started running trivia and bingo events as well. Which is easier for me to social distance, although there is rarely anybody else wearing a mask. It has taken some time but I’m relearning how to interact and make strangers laugh again.

Looking on the bright side, I’m happy I can have some interaction again. To perform in some way and experience a group catharsis is important to me. Even if it is just hearing the joy of a B9. But I’m frustrated I can’t separate those good feelings from the nervousness that I may be getting it at the cost of this virus spreading.

As I’ve had to figure out how to continue my life I’ve been stuck with a blur of nonstop questions and frustrations. Questions such as “What if I am being careless by working out in public?” “Why do I have to keep finding work when it would be safer to stay home?” “Why can’t things go back to the way they were before?”

Coronavirus is an inescapable part of all of our lives. We can’t ignore the effect it has on the things we love. As such anything we need or want now has to involve it in some way.

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