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    • A man walks into a bar. He realizes that the owner forgot to lock up before shelter in place. So the man locks and shuts the front door and then goes home, which is where he should’ve stayed in the first place.

      This joke is even funnier with a live audience.

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      I’ve never been a fan of laugh tracks. They were the norm on tv sitcoms for a long time, however, there are a lot more shows that dispense with the canned laughter: Young Sheldon, Kimmy Schmidt, Lodge 49, Dead to Me.

      And yet now it feels as if we’re in need of an audience’s laugh. I haven’t watched Stephen Colbert’s monologue since he began performing from home, so maybe they’ve added a laugh track or a live audience via zoom, but it’s still gotta be creepy—or disorienting at least—for both performer and tv home viewer.

      Do we need an international volunteer corps audience? Or will performing artists soon be accompanied remotely by professionally trained laughers, cheerers and audience sing-a-longers?

      I once did an outline for a screenplay on the difficulty that silent screen actors faced with the change to “talkies.”

      Back during the silent film era, movie sets were incredibly loud with other production numbers performing on nearby sets, construction in progress of new sets, etc. As an actor, you were forced to completely tune out the noise while the camera was filming.

      And then from sound to silence.

      “Quiet on set” was the death knell for many silent film stars. It was eerily quiet on what was before a lively set, and actors found themselves replaced before they were able to adapt to the “new normal.” (Lack of a movie star calibre voice was also a hurdle for silent emoters.)

      Will new performing artists appear over the next year, replacing current stars, because they are better suited to perform sans audience or applause?

      Do I hear clapping?

    • Or we could just have live concerts during a pandemic.

      On Sunday, Americans returned to hear live music in a concert hall for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic pulled the plug on the nation’s entertainment industry.

      The concert offered a preview of what music fans may expect from an industry struggling to find a path forward in the age of social distancing. Forget arenas roiling with sweating, screaming fans. Here, concertgoers were required to buy seats in clusters, or what promoters call “fan pods” — presumably a group of friends comfortable being in proximity — with scores of empty seats roped off on all sides to ensure space between strangers. Of the 1,100 seats available, just 20 percent were available for sale.