No laughing matter: KC comedy clubs and comedians hurting as crowds stay home

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The COVID-19 pandemic is hurting local comedians as Kansas City venues like the Comedy Club are closing and the crowds are non-existent.

“We weren’t expecting this for our one-year anniversary. Stand-up comedy right now is taking a real big nap. You will still have sketch, TV shows, but there are no working comics in the entire world,” owner Dustin Kaufman said.

The coronavirus outbreak is impacting the family-owned comedy club in a way Kaufman said it may not recover.

Normally, Kaufman’s weekends are booked, but his last show was March 14. Now the future is uncertain in a time Kaufman said laughs are needed the most.

At the Comedy Club, staff has attempted to stream online, but they’ve realized, with stand-up comedy, that doesn’t necessarily work.

“Part of being a comedian is getting a group of people together and saying funny things in front of them,” comedian Mike Baldwin said. “When you outlaw big groups of people, it’s hard to be funny and feel funny as a comedian. Without the audience, it is definitely tough to be a comedian.”

For Baldwin, who travels all around the world, he said it’s impossible to find work.

In a matter of weeks, he’s out thousands of dollars in income and several months of work.

“Every show that I had on my schedule has been canceled; every show here has been canceled. We don’t know — I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin and Kaufman both hope stand-up comedy will survive these uncertain times. They hope to continue working in the business of laughs.

“I think America is going to need a laugh soon,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman started a Gofundme to help keep his business alive. He said the funds will go towards paying bills and helping employees. If you would like to donate, click here.

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