Stand-up comedy finds a wide audience

Stand-up comedy has skyrocketed in demand during the pandemic.

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Stand-up comedy finds a wide audience


Future. Stand-up comedy has skyrocketed in demand during the pandemic due to the availability of good venues, the surge of people watching on streaming services, and the relative ease with which comedians can travel from city to city (it’s a lot easier to move one person than a whole band!). Like last year’s record-breaking candy sales, depressing world events may have people lining up laughs.

One-person show
Everyone wants in on the jokes.

  • While only five of the top 100 touring acts in North America were comedians, that number has more than doubled during the pandemic — with many such as Trevor Noah, Jo Koy, and Bert Kreischer getting into the top 50.
  • With so many (reasonable) restrictions placed on entertainment venues due to COVID, stand-up comedy acts have filled in the gaps because of their simple logistics and ability to make travel arrangements quickly.
  • They’ve also been able to get spots at high-profile stadiums or arenas that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to book.
    • For example, Gabriel Iglesias will be the first comedian to play Dodger Stadium… and he’s already sold it out.

Matt Blake, the head of comedy touring at CAA, described the phenomenon, explaining  that “we’ve got more acts touring in a bigger way, really than ever before.”

The stream must go on
Another key to stand-up’s growth is how it’s become a key weapon in the streaming war.

  • Netflix and HBO Max have paid handsomely — up to tens of millions of dollars — for specials from Chris Rock, Ali Wong, Iliza Shlesinger, and John Early.
  • Netflix released 44 comedy specials in 2020, up from 15 in 2015.

It also can’t be overstated that the rise of TikTok has driven demand for comedy, jump-starting several careers such as Sarah Cooper’s, who has used her internet fame to enter the touring circuit — and yes, land a special on Netflix.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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