I have not yet found a more accurate description for my quarantine mood than a line delivered in the middle of Jet City Improv’s Comedy in Quarantine. “Nathan, this is going very badly. It’s a new medium and I’m suffering.” With all the new skills we’re learning in quarantine, improv has gained a big one too: self awareness. An hour long, live-streamed showcase of four indie improv duos, Comedy in Quarantine has sprung up to replace the weekly, in-person improv we know and love, utilizing Twitch streaming and chat features to simulate the suggestion process so integral to improv.
The best moments of the performance adapted advantageously to the digital medium. The first comedy duo, The Appropriate Ladies of Weatherbee, used Zoom backgrounds to transport themselves to an ambiguous, old-timey England. The backgrounds helped the scene work in a way not possible in-person, complimenting iconic, off-kilter lines, such as, “I do love to crush a small bug between my fingers from time to time”, and “Mildred, I believe your goat is the devil incarnate.” The next team, Price Nixon, used backgrounds varying from Tiger King screencaps to a Third Eye Blind concert and Trolls: World Tour. Up next, Beckz and Mads filmed in their bathrooms, playing beauty vloggers stuck in Vegas due to a cancelled convention, being legally obligated to film YouTube videos from their hotel rooms. A delightful finale, Storyboard, featured live cartooning, music, and an improvised Choose-Your-Own-Adventure storybook. Storyboard served as delightful proof quarantine doesn’t have to tamper art, and leaning in to adaptation can create something wonderful.
Screenshot from Jet City Improv's Comedy in Quarantine.