On Tuesday’s Conan, Conan O’Brien playfully imagined what it must’ve been like for the comedian booked aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, stuck in the San Francisco Bay Area waiting for the United States to let it dock anywhere, all thanks to the coronavirus.
Of course, someone actually does get booked as the comedian on cruise ships around the world, including the Grand Princess on Princess Cruise Lines.
That comedian? Kristin Key!
True story. Key had just spent 10 days aboard the Regal ship on the Princess Cruises line from Feb. 9-19, then enjoyed a respite before embarking on the Grand Princess from Feb. 27 to March 7. At least, that was the plan.
The above photos show how much can change in a short time. Above left: Key, enjoying life on the beach on Feb. 28, 2020: “Testing the limits of sunscreen in Lahaina, Hawaii (Maui) #comedy #travel #cruiselife #guestentertainer #standup #comedymusic #beach #ocean #ship #keeperoffeelings #kayakfight #drunkpeopleloseshoes.” Eleven days later, Key checked back in, this time wearing a mask in a quarantined room on Travis Air Force Base, just east of Fairfield, about 50 miles from the Port of Oakland, where passengers and crew finally began making their way back onto American ground. Key wrote: “Starting my 14 day quarantine at Travis AFB today. The incredible Captain and crew on the Grand were unbelievable. I will forever be grateful to them for their hard work and amazing attitudes! Let the hunger games begin! #quarantinedcomic”
How did she cope? Key told me:
The ship had docked on Monday afternoon, carrying at least 21 passengers diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Most of the other 2,400+ passengers and crew of 1,000+ had been confined to their cabins since last Thursday, March 5. About 400 got off the boat Monday. Another 1,000 on Tuesday, with the rest hoping to leave Wednesday. Foreign passengers get chartered flights back to their home countries, while Americans get checked and quarantined at various military bases around the country.
Not that that means she’s even sick. As Key wrote on Twitter on Wednesday (March 11), “I’m being medically quarantined on a US military base and couldn’t find a Band Aid last night and STILL HAVEN’T BEEN TESTED for the thing I’m being quarantined for.” Later that day, she updated her status: “They took my temperature. I asked: “Am I going to be tested” they said “Only if you want to be.” I said “Test me”. They said they would be back later to test.”
So yeah, the United States has been slow to act or react to coronavirus, and we have no idea how many Americans actually have caught COVID-19.
You may have seen Key on your TV last summer, as she performed on the comedy competition series Bring The Funny.
She’s also got a new album on the way, “Kristin Key: Keeper of Feelings,” available April 7.
What about all of the other comedians working cruise ships these days and nights, though?
JC Coccoli just got done with a gig on Carnival Cruise Line, but won’t be getting back on another ship for a while.
Coccoli said: “They are still allowing guests to cruise, but the comedians that are currently on board have to STAY on board until the end of the month. NO THANK YOU TO THAT. Grateful they cleared me this morning early before that decision was made.” She said Carnival was temporarily halting vessel transfers, which allowed comedians to hop from ship to ship each week. Now the comedians currently on Carnival ships will have to wait 20 days before transferring to a different ship.
And then there was the case of Frank King. King, an Oregon comedian who appeared on A&E’s An Evening at the Improv in 1993, worked on the Holland American Westerdam ship that had been stranded in Cambodia in February due to coronavirus patients onboard. “I had four shows on the ship, some of my best shows ever you know because we’re all in it together,” King told KOMO news in Seattle. “I made a few jokes about, it’s not the love boat, it’s the glove boat- thank you.”
When a passenger tested positive for coronavirus, Asian countries refused to let the Westerdam dock. It eventually did in Cambodia, and King, who said he tested negative, snuck out of the country, flying home to Oregon via Seattle. Seattle. Ahem.
If you’re a comedian working cruise ships now, and want to share your story, please let me know!