2020 should have been the year that killed comedy.
Last March, when the open-mics shut down and clubs went dark, it felt at first like the intermission would be brief. In two months, we'd all be back sitting shoulder to shoulder, seeing who came out of quarantine with the best jokes about Tiger King and learning to bake.
But as the pandemic wore on, it became clear that gathering in tight quarters while forcefully expelling respiratory droplets in appreciation of a good bit about hoarding toilet paper wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
It's the reason we initially decided to forgo our annual survey of more than 100 comics, club owners, bookers and megafans, looking for the best standups in the city. But then we realized something: Just because stages are empty doesn't mean comedy isn't happening.
It's happening in empty parking lots at guerrilla-style drive-in shows. It's happening at BYOC street performances—that's "bring your own chairs." And, of course, it's happening on the internet, on every platform available.
And so, here is your Funniest Five Class of 2020. Better late than never.
The honorees all have two things in common: They do indeed miss the stage—but that hasn't stopped them from finding other ways to be funny. One managed to shoot a semi-autobiographical short film while teaching high school students online. Another became a hit on TikTok by posting goofy videos. One converted their long-standing comedy game show to a digital format, while another shifted to creating delightfully absurd sketches for social media.
We hope this issue helps you to discover new sources of levity following a very grim year—we've even provided a list to get you started (page 16). And we also hope it makes you envision a time, in the nearish future, when we can gather in a darkened room and enjoy a much-needed collective laugh.
It will happen again—because if this issue proves anything, it's that comedy never dies, especially in this city.
—Andi Prewitt, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor