28 April 2021, by Alfie Noakes

What will stand-up comedy gigs look like post-covid?

With lockdown restrictions easing, and over 50% of the UK population having had their first vaccine shot, it's time to talk about when stand-up comedy gigs will return, what form they will take post-covid, and what you should do NOW to ensure your successful return to gigging.


We believe stand-up comedians should prepare for a stage comeback in June or July, but brace yourself for a possible further delay until the autumn. I explain more below.

What just happened

I'm mindful that thousands of people have died in the last year. Friends in the comedy community have lost loved ones. Writing about comedy gigs in this context does seem trite.

But I'm also aware--as are we all--that socialising is good for us, and that laughter is cathartic. The show should go on.

Demand for gigs is high

The minute venues opened for outdoor socialising two weeks ago, crowds across the UK flocked to enjoy a night out.

It's pretty clear the demand for nights out--and that includes comedy gigs--is high, both from the public and from venues.

We experienced a similar surge in demand in 2008 and 2009 as we bounced back from the financial crash.

Will gigs restart in June or in the autumn?

Under the UK Roadmap Out of Lockdown, 21 June is the earliest that remaining restrictions will be removed. So gigs might restart then.

But don't count on it.

The UK has experienced more than one setback when dealing with this virus, and we all need to act responsibly. It may be the autumn before you start getting regular stage time again.

What about Edinburgh?

The Edinburgh Fringe is set to return on 6 to 30 August, with bookings opening next week, on 5 May.

We have yet to see how this will play out, or if the Fringe will return to its position of dominance in the comedy calendar.

If you are interested in this year's festival, you can subscribe for updates at edfringe.com

When will We Are Funny Project gigs return?

The We Are Funny Project will run gigs as soon as possible, as soon as the time is right.

If I think we can run safe, enjoyable gigs in June or July, I will go for it. But if I have any doubts about virus-safety for audience, comedians or venue staff, then I will postpone until the autumn.

In the meantime, we are adding footage of our favourite gigs to our YouTube channel, and building out our playlist of top tips for stand-up comedians.

Of course, we also offer online courses and 1-to-1 coaching for comedians of all types, and all levels of experience.

Now's a good time to take an online course

Will gigs be socially distanced?

Yes. Nobody wants to be responsible for a super-spreader event, so it's highly likely comedy gigs will be socially distanced, at least for the near future. That means smaller audiences, sat further apart.

Masks will also be a feature. It may be harder to gauge audience reaction when faces are covered.

Rather than fight all this, start looking for the comedy in the situation.

Of course, everyone on the bill will be doing the same, so don't just roll out some hackneyed lockdown gag. Go the extra mile.

What should you be doing now?

A great MC and improviser once told me comedians need to act like journeymen boxers. We have to train year-round, so we are ready to take the big fight at a moment's notice.

Which is to say: don't wait until you have an exact date for your next gig. Start (or restart) writing and rehearsing your material now, so you are ready to take your next gig at a moment's notice.

For some comedians, recommitting to writing and rehearsing, and perhaps subscribing to our YouTube channel, will be enough.

But for most, you might need some more help to refresh your material and to get your comedy groove back. In that case, we recommend you consider one of our online courses or book yourself in for some 1-to-1 coaching.

Whatever route you choose, and whenever your first post-covid gig, we aim to help you bring the house down when you finally do get back on stage.
Images for this post courtesy of BBC/EPA, Essers, Steve Best and Rawpixel
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