Even if good things have happened in your life during the past year, there’s no denying we live in bleak times: Our lives are limited by the pandemic to varying degrees, and what keeps us going is mainly the promise of brighter days ahead. One thing you can do to lighten the mood right now is indulge in some laughs. Luckily, online platforms are filled to the brim with comedy content just waiting to be discovered. We’ll introduce you to some of our faves, but of course humour is subjective, so take these suggestions as a jumping off point to curate your own virtual comedy club.

If you like your comedy to be plucked from real life and delivered in a manner that feels like a video chat with your funniest friends, you may need to go to Couples’ Therapy. Comics Naomi Ekperigin and Andy Beckerman are a couple who talk to other couples about funny moments in their relationship. You can therapise along on their podcast or join their live Twitch therapy sessions.

Jordan Mendoza is, as the kids would put it, extremely online. The Asian American comedian, who also has a show on Comedy Central, pokes fun at everything from YouTube apologies and sexting to finding excuses for ending video calls. You can find him under his handle @jordypizza on Twitter and TikTok.

Sooz Kempner is a live comedy pro with an impressive resume. Beginning with her training at the Royal Academy of Music, right through several successful Edinburgh Fringe performances and Off West End shows, peppered with a seemingly endless repertoire of impersonations, stand-up routines and slice-of-life storytelling sessions, disseminated through her various online channels like Twitter and Discord. Come for her President Liza Minelli bit, stay for the biting Brexit burns.

If you want to SEE Nicole Byer perform her comedy, you’ll have to take to YouTube, where you’ll find her Conan O’Brien show appearances, or Netflix, where you can watch her stand-up special. If those make you want to spend more time with her, you can also LISTEN to a whole slew of podcasts. Fair warning: not all of them are suitable for sensitive ears. The best starting point may be Newcomers, where she teams up with Lauren Lapkus to watch an entire movie franchise neither has ever seen before. Season One was dedicated to Star Wars and Season Two, which just wrapped, covered Lord of the Rings.

Miss your somewhat cantankerous best friend? You know, the one who can bitch about absolutely anything at length – and make it fun. Maybe No Fun can temporarily take that pace in your life. The non-scripted monologue podcast by comedian Jen Kirkman is basically like listening to a quick-witted friend go off on a variety of subjects. It’s not a-laugh-a-minute, but fun and insightful with a nice sense of community. A large part of each episode is dedicated to listener submissions, and Patreon supporters even get a video feed of the pod.

Looking for something a little more polished? Soho Theatre on Demand is a platform offering the best of London’s stage performances, including live comedy shows.

Corin Wells is a one-woman impersonation machine, tackling everyone from Kamala Harris and Beyoncé, to an imaginary side character on Bridgerton. Her TikTok also offers some impressive cosplay, often leaning towards the creepy and dark, which adds an intriguing layer to the funny side of her persona.

Speaking of impersonations, Jordan Firstman got internet famous in 2020 by doing whatever the opposite of a celebrity impersonation is. Instead, the Angeleno, who looks a lot more like a typical Instagram fashion influencer than a comedian, delivers impressions of mundane “types”, concepts and what can only be described as “random stuff”. His greatest hits include “a guy who is addicted to saying that quarantine isn’t that different from his normal life”, an “impression of children’s cereal”, and “the Pfizer vaccine on the phone with her mom right before she received the news.”

Astronomy Club is not new, but chances are you may have missed it while it was on. The sadly underrated sketch show was not renewed by Netflix, despite delivering one perfect season. If you’re after a reliable dose of real laughs within an easily digestible format, look no further. Featuring and named after the first all-Black house team at legendary Upright Citizens Brigade, it tackles topics from pop culture and reality TV to racism and politics.

Chances are, you’ve seen at least one clip of father-son duo Randy and Brice Gonzalez. They usually lip sync along to music, film clips or news footage under the TikTok handle Enkyboys. Their affection and enthusiasm are infectious and endearing, especially paired with the father’s challenging back story, which he deals with candidly. Gonzalez Junior displays such talent that speculation is rife he will be moving on to Hollywood stardom next, so we’ll be able to say we knew him before he was famous.

Hannibal Buress’ comedy special Miami Nights, which appeared on YouTube last summer, is no longer available, but you can watch more of the Chicago stand-up’s hard-hitting brand of comedy on his YouTube channel, featuring clips from his shows and video recordings of freestyle jam sessions from his Handsome Rambler podcast with celebrity guests.

We challenge you to wipe that smile off your face once Andrew Farmer pops up on your feed. His small character studies always radiate a warmth and intimacy rare in comedy, even when his observations are chillingly accurate. We would pay good money to participate in a Farmer family reunion though, to finally meet the people he presumably mines for inspiration.

Ted Alexandro delivered one of the most unusual comedy specials of 2020. Featuring the comedian talking into his phone camera from his home in New York during lockdown, it was edited from several Instagram Live sessions in April 2020. It was not only poignant and relatable, but also funny and touching. If you’re looking for a more polished version of his regular act, visit his YouTube channel.

Michigan TikTok creator BigBadDab specialises in a simple yet effective type of comedy. He tells jokes. They follow a pretty standard pattern – an intriguing set-up, solid punchline, delivered in a conversational manner, with a really pleasant speaking voice. It can be so simple – and it works.

You potentially know Mike Birbiglia from lots of things – most likely This American Life and Orange Is the New Black. In 2020, he launched a new format designed to support the staff of comedy clubs forced to temporarily or permanently close. Tip Your Waitstaff features big-name comedy guests and full episodes can still be found on YouTube.

And now for something completely different… You’ve seen all the celebrity guests you need and had your fill of comedians propping up each other’s pandemic projects? At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, John Hodgman interviewed people’s pets on Instagram live for a weekly segment called Get Your Pets. No word yet on whether he’s bringing it back for the second wave. We’d love to see the cute, funny and quirky interviews return, but until then you can catch up on existing episodes or follow his other comedic output.

The list of live venues and comedy clubs live-streaming to keep in touch with their audiences and raise funds is endless, but here’s a small selection worth tuning in to:

Hot Tub With Kurt & Kristen Home Edition (New York/LA)
The Pack Theatre (LA)
UnCabaret (LA)
The Laughter Lounge (Dublin)
The Comedy Store (London)

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