Jeff Dye and Brad Williams sat down with Theo Von for Von’s podcast, “This Past Weekend,” to recount their past weekends back on the road as some of the first comedians to perform in live comedy clubs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dye headlined Wiseguys in Salt Lake City, while Williams played Bricktown in Oklahoma City; Williams will headline Wiseguys this coming weekend.
“That’s crazy,” Von said.
“Explain to me why it’s crazy,” Dye asked Von.
“I don’t have any fear of people coming to the event,” Von replied. “I had thoughts about, as a comedian being onstage, since there’s gonna be less people in the audience, would I feel like, bummed out? Would I feel like this isn’t the same?” He also wondered if it’s sound business for clubs to make enough money for the club or its waitstaff.
“I’ll tell you who didn’t make enough money: The comedian,” Dye quipped. Because of the audience limits: “I can’t work a bonus deal….but the waitresses made great money.”
“They were just so happy. I was crushing on throwaway lines. So it was very generous.”
Williams agreed that audiences were more appreciative than usual, and wasn’t worried about performing to fewer people. “My philosophy is OK, or I could stay home, and there’s no show. There’s no one getting laughs. There’s nothing,” he said. “And yeah, you’re not going to just flip a switch and we all come back and it’s exactly the way it was. We gotta gradually get into it, test the waters a little bit. And then if it’s good, we’ll move up to the next level. I was more worried about the travel, than anything.”
He said traveling felt more burdensome, wearing a mask for several hours straight, compared to an hour or less at a time for trips to the local supermarket. Dye, meanwhile, reporting seeing few people in the airport or on his flights back from Salt Lake City.
Dye told Von he knows he would piss off “liberal New York comedians” by admitting: “I dealt with it pretty selfishly. I’m not afraid I want to go tell jokes. I’m wearing the mask out of respect for others. If you want to come hug me, I don’t give a shit. I’m so…I don’t care.” Dye added: “I just want to get back to doing comedy so bad, and I’m tired of being in my house with my dog. I tried doing one of those virtual shows. Had a great time, but it wasn’t the same…I need my hotel rooms, I need to flirt with girls, I need to tell jokes. I needed some sort of semblance of what i’m used to.”
He said Wiseguys took temperatures of everyone at the door, required customers to wear masks when they weren’t seated, but seated them in groups of four or less, spaced them apart, and provided plenty of hand sanitizer for them and the comedians, as well as separate microphones for each comedian.
Both Dye and Williams said plenty of comedians called or texted them to ask how their weekend travels and shows went.
Williams said he didn’t do his usual meet-and-greets with fans after his shows, so instead, he offered to pose onstage so fans could take extra pictures for social media. Hence, this pose.
Dye did do meet and greets. “I think you’ve just got to make your decision,” Dye said.
Williams said he hopes his parents, who are in their 70s, would not go out unnecessarily. “If grandma’s living with you at your house, then you have a different responsibility.”
Their discussion about road gigs during the pandemic starts after the 17-minute mark.