Shane Cunningham where he wants to be again - on a live stage
By Shane Cunningham
Throughout the past year, people all over the world have been going to bed and waking up with the word Covid-19 tattooed to their brain. Even watching the headlines can be exhausting. We need an escape. We need to distract our minds. We need laughter.
In the past year, we as a society have adapted to the era of masks while keeping a two-meter distance from our best friends and loved ones. We’ve had to make changes to our daily routine that we thought would never happen. All our lives have been impacted by Coronavirus, but for the entertainment industry and live theatre the curtains are closed, at least until we find a solution!
I am a comedian and impressionist from Galway and one of many performers drastically affected by this pandemic. Almost overnight, the entertainment industry suffered a devastating blow when all lights were cut out by a vicious virus that gripped the world. Performers like myself haven’t worked in over year and with the uncertainty of where the next gig is going to come from, many entertainers have had to adapt to online performances to make ends meet. But we all need to laugh; after all "laughter is the best medicine."
I am concerned for up-and-coming artists during this time. Their confidence risks being shot. It’s a tough time for everyone right now, but we need to laugh, we need to stay creative and put content out there for the world to see, for our front-line workers who come home after a twelve hour shift and need a giggle or two. It’s important for one’s health to laugh, even for our mental health. Laughter goes along way in easing the stresses of today’s world.
so I have been taking to social media to help keep my name fresh. With comedy sketches on topical events and celebrity impersonations I have managed to create an online buzz but while remaining out of pocket.
I personally wouldn’t be a fan of asking for tips or donations when I go live on my Facebook page. I’d rather let the wider audience just enjoy the comedy for what it is, a few impressions, some stories of old, and a little Irish banter.
But when will we get to see “LIVE” comedy again, as opposed to just the social media version?
I try not to think about when I’ll see a packed hall again, or a room so intimate you could whisper.
For myself, and many performers, life right now brings with it a harsh reality. We rely so much on musicians, DJ’s, comedians, and other performers, to help make our events, bars and nightclubs more enjoyable. All were so often taken for granted.
Imagine walking into a busy club on a Saturday night and having no music. Ok we’ve all done that, but you know what I mean. Picture this - pressing play on your music library and no music coming through. A world without live entertainment? No thank you!
There is light at a distance, however. Though is it enough to light up the stage? With the turn of the year, with summer months approaching and outdoor dining becoming more and more popular, I am hopeful that certain events, in keeping with current and any new restrictions, will be able to commence outdoors.
We can’t leave talented people locked up forever. We need to use our creativity and find ways to entertain. It’s been a rough few months for everyone. We need to laugh...together.
So what have I been up to through all this?
Pre-Covid life was good. I was staying in New York City as that’s where most of my work was. I had a lot of shows and different events on throughout 2019. At the beginning of 2020 things looked very promising, gigs were filling up nicely, and then, boom! Everything stopped so abruptly.
I flew home to Ireland - on my birthday worth - thinking it would all blow over, not blow up! One month led to another and before I knew it, I’m a year unemployed.
There is hope, however with shows currently being booked for Summer 2021. But all this remains COVID-19 dependent. With outdoor events set to take place in both New York and Los Angeles, I am hoping to return to the U.S. for the summer months.
Right now the situation has gotten much worse here in Ireland. It’s hard to see events taking place for quite some time, whereas in the U.S, and New York in particular, it’s much easier to take things outside - weather depending of course.
Hopefully, the day isn’t too far away where we can grab the popcorn and kick up the feet at our theaters, be embarrassed when the comedian picks on you in the front row at a comedy show, or dance in a bar to the sound of "The Irish Rover" with a pint in the left hand while cheering on the crowd with the other.
It's important to remain positive while testing negative! I am optimistic that things will improve quickly. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for how fast we can adapt to a new way of life.