The closure of comedy clubs and open mics across Columbus, Ohio, has shown the city’s stand-up comedians that COVID-19 is no joke. That’s why Buckeye Standup Comedy Club is taking its annual Big Spring Show online for the first time.
The student organization will host its first-ever virtual comedy show on Zoom Saturday night to replace its annual spring show, which was initially canceled due to COVID-19, Zack White, a second-year in physics and the club’s president, said. The show is scheduled to be headlined by New York City-based comedian Dina Hashem, and will include additional performances from club members and Los Angeles-based comedian Andrew Michaan — although the lineup is not set in stone yet.
“If we’re gonna keep having classes, you know, we’re also part of the university community, we want to keep putting on events and we want to be able to still service the community, as is our goal as a club,” White said.
Although the show was originally scheduled for Friday night, White said it was moved to Saturday so the club could support the Ohio Union Activities Board’s event, “A Conversation with Eric Andre,” which invites students to a Friday Zoom session with the world-renowned comedian, actor and talk show host. White said the goal of moving the club’s show was to give people the opportunity to have a “comedy weekend” and enjoy both events.
The show’s lineup is not set in stone, as many comedians who were scheduled to perform at the in-person event, including Hashem, have expressed concern about performing on Zoom, but White said the club still plans to have an equal mix of club members and professional comics performing.
To keep the show as similar to an in-person setting as possible, audience members will be asked to leave their microphones and cameras on so performers can get live reactions, but doing so will not be required to watch the show, White said.
All events can come with difficulties, but holding the show on Zoom will present challenges performers have never encountered before, Andrew Muller, a third-year in political science and club vice president, said. As the host, Muller said he will have to adjust how he runs the show, such as using the chat function to warn performers when their set time is almost done instead of the traditional warning light used for in-person shows.
Muller said that because many of the performers have no experience practicing live comedy virtually, creating a rapport with the audience through a computer screen may also come as a challenge, but audience support will help.
“It’s going to be weird, but I hope — and I assume — that the audience will be very supportive and know what’s going on,” Muller said. “And hopefully we can still build the environment that a live show provides, like a nice, supportive, fun energy, and I’m hoping that will translate online.”
Despite the nerve-wracking changes associated with hosting a virtual comedy show, Muller said he is excited to be able to practice comedy again in any capacity, and he believes many of the other performers feel the same way.
“This is a new world for everyone. Everyone’s trying to adjust, so I’m trying to do it, too. I really miss doing stand-up comedy and this is the best we could do right now,” Muller said. “And I’m sure that everyone would like an hour to stop thinking about everything else that’s going on, and that’s what we hope to do.”
The Buckeye Standup Big Spring Show will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday on Zoom. The Zoom link can be found on the club’s social media pages. Admission is free, but donations to individual comics via Venmo are encouraged.