If laughter is the best medicine, comedy spots should be considered essential businesses, comedian and director Mike Binder said.
“I am so surprised that the governor and the mayor of the state and the city have not declared the comedy stores essential businesses. I think people need to laugh so hard and so bad,” he said during a showtime Panel on Thursday.
Binder, joined by comedy stars Bill Burr, Sebastian Maniscalco and Annie Lederman, spoke about the upcoming Showtime docuseries The Comedy Store.
Directed and executive produced by Binder, the five-part series looks at the long lasting legacy of Hollywood’s The Comedy Store. Featuring interviews with a number of the industry’s biggest jokers and deep looks into the tragedies and victories shared by the spot’s community of notable alumni, The Comedy Store examines how the Mitzi Shore’s Sunset club served as a launch pad for the biggest comedians and paved the way for modern comedy.
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During the panel the comedians reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the comedy scene and how The Comedy Store fills the void for levity in times of uncertainty and unrest.
“I think we’ll be fine. I remember after 9/11 everybody was like ‘is anything ever going to be funny?’ Burr remembered.
From stand-up shows held in cow pastures to drive-ins, Burr and the panelists agreed that both famous and up-and-coming comedians have adapted to the situation and have discovered ways to continue cracking jokes.
Binder said that comedians always figured out how to try out new material in front of an audience, even if the conditions weren’t exactly ideal. Resourcefulness and creativity, he said, are common traits most successful comedians have in common.
“You can’t stop comedy. Comedians are going to find ways to get seen,” he said.
This narrative of perseverance and determination strings through the five episodes of The Comedy Store. Rife with nearly five decades’ worth of Comedy Store history, myth and “so much love,” the show can allow viewers to take a breath and laugh a little, even when things are far from normal, Binder said.
“There’s a lot of comedy, there’s a lot of history. There’s not a lot of porn but there is a lot of social gathering,” he quipped.
Mike Tollin, Jon Weinbach, Peter Shore and Paul Young serve as additional producers for the Showtime docuseries. Creative director of the Comedy Store Adam Ege produces with Jonathan Vogler for Mandalay Sports Media.
The Comedy Store premieres on Showtime Oct. 4 at 10 p.m.