With more time than ever to create, audiences desperate for a laugh and fresh trauma to reconcile, social isolation is to thank for birthing the ‘quarantine comedian’. Many have found respite in the humor of creators on Instagram such as Benito Skinner (@bennydrama7), Caitlin Reilly (@hicaitlinreilly) and Meg Stalter (@megsstalter). The laugh-out-loud impressions and sketches of TikTok users such as Mark Gaetano (@snarkymarky) and Courtney Parchman (@averagefashionblogger) have also hit their stride under the pandemic’s unique circumstances.
While some of their content plays with the experience of quarantine (see Skinner’s sketch below), most of it exists outside of our current situation entirely, providing a much-needed escape.
Reminding us of life beyond our doormats (for better or for worse), Caitlin Reilly’s hilarious impressions of WASP moms, wellness influencers and ex-high school mean girls are a breath of fresh air. But Reilly theorizes her success is linked to something bigger. She told Insider her characters are popular because they reflect a new willingness to call out bad behavior in the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement and amid the ongoing pandemic: “Cringe is very popular these days.”
With comedy clubs closed to the public, stand-up artists like Meg Stalter have made the most of Instagram live streams by orchestrating interactive, long-form shows for a virtual audience. In September, the 29-year-old told Harper’s BAZAAR, “We’re all connecting with each other online because that’s all we have right now. Some people online find out that their followings suck. I found out that mine was smart and funny and kind.” Stalter’s live sessions have featured a cooking show, a magic show, a motivational seminar and a master class on the art of seduction.
A discussion of quarantine-born comedy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning TikTok. Reminiscent of Vine (RIP🕊), TikTok’s easy-to-use editing tools provide the perfect springboard for young comedians. Not to mention, the platform’s impressive algorithm allows users to attain virality overnight by repurposing existing ‘sounds’ or participating in trending challenges. Generally involving less production than Instagram posts, tiktoks are filmed with quick cuts and snappy humor to match. 18-year-old creator Mark Gaetano first blew up for his impression of a teacher reprimanding her students on a school bus…. and it’s Oscar-worthy.
Fellow TikTok star Courtney Parchman proves that sometimes, finding humor in our collective pain really is the most therapeutic thing we can do. With tears in her eyes and the sound of a ticking clock booming around her, the caption reads, “thinking about 3-4 months of finding new hobbies and having unlimited time for self-growth.”