With no help from the government, the newest talent in stand-up comedy won’t survive coronavirus

The sadness of the situation is unbearable, says Jenny Eclair. What else do you do when the only thing you know how to do is make people laugh?

Monday 13 July 2020 15:14
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Jenny Eclair supplemented her income from early comedy gigs with waitressing and bar work. No chance of that for today’s young performers
Jenny Eclair supplemented her income from early comedy gigs with waitressing and bar work. No chance of that for today’s young performers

It’s hard to make a comedian laugh these days – particularly when our industry is reeling from the recent news that the great theatrical government bailout, designed to protect jobs in the entertainment industry, doesn’t cover stand-up comedy. Like circus folk, we don’t seem to count. In the coming months many performers, promoters and venue staff will be looking to find other jobs that have already ceased to exist.

Back in the day I used to supplement my stand-up career by doing lunchtime bar shifts and odd jobbing as a waitress. That sort of work was easy to pick up 40 years ago. Not any more. If a struggling bar or restaurant is looking for employees in 2020, they’re going to want someone who will dedicate themselves to the job, not someone who is going to crack jokes and steal chips off the customers plates.

My heart goes out to the younger stand-ups, the potential big names of the future, who have been honing their craft for some years. How many performers are in danger of missing their boat to the big time now that indoor gigs are banned and comedy clubs are struggling to survive?

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