How Local Comedians’ Careers Have Changed During the Pandemic

By: Scott Davis | October 16, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Hymie Polania.

Live comedy shows can help us take our minds off the day-to-day stresses and, with everything going on right now, it seems like they’re needed more than ever.

The last few months have brought changes to every industry, and that is especially true for entertainers and comedians. Many local performers had to make drastic changes in their line of work once venues across Metro Detroit and all over the state shutdown.

One of those comedians is Metro Detroit’s Hymie Polania. The 29 year-old comedian has been doing stand-up comedy for a few years but is a frequent performer at The Independent Comedy Club in Hamtramck, the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak and other open mic nights in the area. Polania said that he was on a stage performing almost every night in January and was hoping to take the next step in his career in 2020.

When venues shut down in March, Polania and many of his comedian friends had to find new ways to perform and keep their comedic chops sharp. Whether it was doing Zoom performances or small, socially distant performances in a backyard, Polania has managed to stay busy during these quarantined months. The one thing he’s missed, though, is the comedy club atmosphere and is anxious to get back to it.

“It’s getting those live laughs and the audience expressions that I miss the most. I never thought I’d miss bombing in a live club atmosphere, but it’s refreshing and humbling because it lets me know what I need to work on,” Polania said.

With restrictions to venues relaxing recently, comedians might be able to get back to that live atmosphere soon. The aforementioned Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle is reopening its doors on Thursday, November 5. While it’s great that these venues are back and up and running, Polania’s advice to other performers is to think of your health first and foremost during this time.

“Only do sets at places where you feel safe. Take this time to write and hone in on your material if you don’t feel safe yet,” Polania said.

He added that aspiring comedians should carry a “joke book” around with them and write down any jokes or situations they come across during this time. Writing down funny situations and keeping your writing sharp are ways for comedians to grow during this time.

Polania will be performing at Supernatural Brewing in Livonia on Thursday, November 5. You can find more of his work and updates on upcoming shows on his Facebook page.

Before heading out to any live performance, be sure to visit the venue’s website for information on their safety protocols.