“Comedy on the Beach” provides a welcome escape
Southern California has long been a place people want to live and where vacationers want to travel.
In the new normal forged by the coronavirus, people have had precious little to laugh about as they deal with complications brought on by the pandemic.
For one night, a couple of comics were able to provide such an escape on Friday in Huntington Beach.
Ian Bagg and Lachlan Patterson headlined “Comedy on the Beach,” a show that was free at SeaLegs at the Beach.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” John Johnson, the show’s producer, said of being able to put on the event. “I just am itching to get back to putting on these shows again and being able to have a chance with this unique venue has just been a blessing.”
Johnson added that this was the eighth “Comedy on the Beach” show that he has put on at SeaLegs since 2018, but it was the first time since the coronavirus shutdown.
Patterson, a Venice Beach resident who said he turned 46 this week, said he could not think of a better way to celebrate a birthday than a return to doing standup comedy.
While he is conscious of the need for safety precautions to protect against the spread of the virus, Patterson said he has come around to the idea that laughter can provide its own form of healing for those who have been cooped up in quarantine.
“At first, I thought my goal as a standup comedian during this pandemic, I felt like, was just to get out of everybody’s way, don’t be part of the problem, stay home, stay safe,” Patterson said. “When people say, ‘We need laughter,’ I kind of said, ‘Well, we need to be safe,’ but I’ve had very few opportunities to laugh during these last six months, and I have laughed.
“Seeing comedy on the internet, I’ve had some good outward laughs at things and social media posts, and that feeling is therapeutic, and I can’t ignore that. I think people really do need to laugh.”
Patterson and Bagg are both alumni of the hit show, “Last Comic Standing.” Bagg said there is no replacement for the energy of live entertainment, and he shared how he got his start in the business.
“I just started on an open mic in Vancouver,” Bagg said. “I was supposed to be going to college to become an explosives engineer. I went on this open mic, and I never went back to school.”
Bagg referred to comedy as a feast-or-famine industry, not only with audiences but with family members. He said that to this day, his father still shakes his head in disbelief that he took this path and it worked out.
Those in attendance came ready to enjoy themselves on Friday night.
Karri Fuqua, 51, of Huntington Beach said that she and her husband, Mike, are regulars at SeaLegs at the Beach, but they had never attended a comedy show at the venue.
The couple brought Beth Reed, a friend who was visiting from Las Vegas.
“I think comedy in the middle of COVID is a great idea,” Reed said. “People need to laugh. Being secluded, isolated, all that, this is what people need.”
Reed described the Las Vegas Strip during the pandemic as “desolate.”
“I keep telling people, ‘If you want to see what the end of the world is going to look like, go drive on the Strip in Vegas.’ Vegas, always people are there, it’s lit up, everything’s going. It’s like the end of the world [now].”
Johnny Luv opened as a live musical act, and some danced in front of the stage. Several sung along during a rendition of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”
A crowd of more than 300 took in the show, dozens of which viewed it from beyond the venue on the sand.
“It can bring the community together,” Drew Campolito, 22, of Huntington Beach said of the show. “Definitely, for free is really nice, too. It’s been hard times lately.”
Diondre Miller, 20, Campolito’s partner, agreed that making the show free gave it a feeling of community.
“It’s really cool,” Miller said. “It’s really fun. It made us want to come out and support.”
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