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Tragic times call for comedic measures

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

As the seriousness of the pandemic affects almost everyone across the globe, it's hard to avoid another awful news story followed by a terrible statistic. so it is no shock that we have seen a massive outpouring of Covid comedy.

People looking toward comedy are essentially seeking something to brighten their day. John Krasinski summed this up with his 'Some Good News with John Krasinski'. The American Office star has made an endearingly low-fi mock-late-night-show-format series where he uses his star power to interview other celebrities, and simply shares heartwarming news.

As one Atlantic article puts it: "We laugh, then, to take back controland to connect—two things we have lost in our fight against the coronavirus. Not only are we unable to stop the tidal wave of infection washing over us, but we are being forced to endure this reality alone in our own home. Powerless and isolated, we’re finding that the joke is now our most reliable shield—and our warmest comfort blanket".

People are using comedy to connect in at least two ways; both to connect over a shared laugh, and in some cases to create the comedy itself. As Tik Tok booms, so too do the posts of Alex Presley. Locked down with his family Alex uploads DIY Olympics style events, such as 'sock slide challenge', 'stair sledding challenge and in true Covid theming the 'social distancing challenge' (closest to six feet).

Comedy as a form of control often looks at our political leaders as satire is can be an important method in taking some of the power back where it's needed most. Here in Australia all it took was a mildly heated debate between Scott Morrison and ABC journalist Andrew Probyn to inspire a series of take offs, turned dance version sensations.

As each nation deals with the virus separately, it seems that much of the current humour has a part patriotic but deeply self-effacing tone. Just as the UK laughs at it's own Little Britain with a Covid-19 twist, Australia reclaims and recycles its comedy heroes. Whilst Kath and Kim fans everywhere prove the meme-ability of the show, Kel Day-Knight graced us with a pandemic themed return, it even included a plug for the tracking app. Old favourites like Chris Lilley's 'We Could Be Heroes' have also been featured heavily in meme format throughout the crisis. But it's not just classics that are getting a hot run. Some new Australian comics are finding their voice with socially isolated humour, like high energy, high profanity count chef from cooking show 'Nat's What I Reckon'. At the time of writing this his clips have received an average of 5m views per show and have attention from Broadsheet, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Pedestrian and Dave Grohl.

Now is not the time for doom and gloom, or as creator of Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker put it “At the moment, I don’t know what stomach there would be for stories about societies falling apart, so I’m not working away on one of those. I’m sort of keen to revisit my comic skill set, so I’ve been writing scripts aimed at making myself laugh.”

Zara Cooper

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