When people talk about the migration of employees from the office building to the remote, work from home model, they immediately think of white collar workers. You’re fully aware of the old cliche. Middle aged suburban homosapien wakes up in bed next to their still sleeping spouse. They get up, take a shower and then brew a ridiculously large cup of coffee. On their way out of the house they kiss their 2.1 kids then hop into the car, driving off to their amazing office job in the city. They sport an insanely broad self satisfied smile while waiting in traffic for an hour as if they have some undiagnosed brain injury. It’s the premise of every Folgers crystals commercial that came out in the 90’s. Makes you wonder if the crystals are actually just cocaine nuggets. Nowadays instead of leaving the house these same people just walk into their home office, then sit in front of a desktop computer with that same creepy smile on their face. This may be an accurate depiction of what the latest version of a modern white collar worker is, however it completely ignores a huge swath of the world's employed population. People like me, the work from home performance artists.
In order for me to convey how utterly my life has changed since the beginning of the pandemic it’s important that I tell you about my experience as a comedian. Warning: I’m about to drop a serious flex about my work history so if you aren’t prepared for an overconfident black man to brag about his skills skip to the next paragraph:) I’ve been a working actor, writer and comedian in Canada for the last two decades. Anyone familiar with the horrendous lack of resources provided to the Canadian entertainment industry can tell you that this is a herculean accomplishment. And that was before the pandemic. For the past 20 years I’ve travelled the country performing standup comedy and have appeared in multiple Just for Laughs Festivals. I was in the movie Race, played a crackhead on TV a couple times (I’m not proud of it but I got paid enough money to ignore the fact that I was reinforcing every single African American racist trope known to man) and I’ve also been in so many lame commercials I’ve honestly lost count.
Even though most stand up comedy performances pay only a fraction of an acting gig (you can’t beat that crackhead money!), it has thus far been a more fulfilling journey. Just for Laughs has thrown me a considerable amount of work over the years. I also performed on a BBC special a few years back. Here’s a clean clip:
The most fun I’ve ever had as a comedian is producing my own events. My biggest accomplishment was creating the Underground Comedy Railroad. Canada’s first all black cross country tour which takes place during Black History Month. I’ve been producing this tour for a decade.Last February we collaborated with Comedy Records for our tenth year anniversary album which is getting crazy spins on Sirius/Xm radio and Kevin Hart’s LOL channel. You can stream it here:
As you can see I was doing pretty well for myself. I’ve never been famous but I had enough on my plate to keep me happy (btw I’m fully aware that this is exactly the kind of thing a non famous comedian would say after years of failing at trying to become famous). Regardless of my social status I was paying bills, had a roof over my head and I could afford to eat every day. Life was good! And then the pandemic hit and everything I had spent two decades building disappeared in seconds.
Chapter 2 is coming next week. For now don’t forget to sign up for the Virtual Team Bonding Comedy Showcase I’m hosting on Linkedin via Zoom.
Friday April 22nd at 1230pm.
During your lunch break come witness the future of virtual events and laugh your butts off!