The annual Charlestown Working Theatre (CWT) fundraiser has attracted top-rate comedic talent for years, but this year the online version of the event, after a one-year hiatus due to COVID in 2020, will feature a lineup that could never be duplicated in person.
Coordinators Kristin and Jennifer Johnson, and Comedian Tony V, said they were happy to return, even if online this year, to bring a great show to everyone’s living room, kitchen table, or back porch.
“It’s going to be a great mix,” said Tony V. “We’ll never have this kind of show again. We could never fly people in for our in-person show. We’ll have acts we would never have again and hopefully that will be a great motivation for people to come. We’ve never had any problem getting our professional friends to do a benefit for us, but you used to have to ask if they liked you enough to come do the show. Now you simply ask them if they like you enough to walk over to their computer. Sometimes they hesitate. There could be unexpected traffic between the kitchen and the living room, you know.”
Though they are back to the laughs and jokes like above, Kristin Johnson said last year’s situation was no joke. The CWT usually has its annual benefit in the first weekend of June, and last year the pandemic was raging and few wanted to think about anything but surviving.
“The thought was definitely to just get through that time, but we haven’t done any fundraising since 2019,” she said. “We did some programming virtually and we had a holiday show online with a smaller group. But I was very reluctant to fundraise last June. We were all scared and I wasn’t comfortable fundraising when so much was needed at places like Harvest on Vine…This year we decided to just put it out there. We weren’t sure if we’d get 10 people or 100 people.”
The show will take place online Friday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. The host will be Tony V and it will be an interactive online show from professionals who have perfected the Zoom comedy show art form over the last several months.
The lineup features (subject to change):
•Aruba Ray Ellin
Tony V said they have had a strange year in the comedy world not being able to perform all the time in person, and having in part to switch to Zoom performances. He said at first he wasn’t sure about it, but warmed up to the idea in time and has found a lot of success.
“For a while it was the weirdest thing,” he said. “When you’d be doing you own set, you’d be looking at your own face. I’m trying to perform and not knowing if people were taking out the trash or if they were feeding their dogs. Together, though, Ray Ellin and I developed this formula that works 99 percent as well as live.”
Said Johnson, “Another good thing about the virtual show this year is we’re getting audiences to come who would never come either. In the holiday show, we had grandparents from Ohio who were able to watch and they’d have never been able to be here in person.”
Tony V added that the Working Theatre audiences are always very popular with his industry friends, and they all enjoy doing this benefit with him.
“I always have so many people who want to do this show than who don’t and that’s because the audience at the Charlestown Working Theatre is so hot. I had so many people say ‘yes’ this year. We had our pick of comics and a lot of great acts and for that reason the show is unequaled anywhere.”
While this is considered a one-off show, and every intention is for the benefit to return to in-person in 2022, Johnson said there are lessons to be learned from the Zoom world and how it can be incorporated in the future.
With a smile and a verbal jab, Tony V agreed.
“It does open up new avenues and audience members for us,” he said. “That includes pets. I’ve done online shows where dogs are staring at me on the screen…That said, we’re opening this up to a whole new breed of audience. I long for the day when someone tells me the cat really love me, but not so much the dog.”
People can call (617) 417-6028 for more information, or email Johnson at [email protected]. This LIVE ZOOM event will be held on Friday, June 4, starting at 7:30. More information and reservations are available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/store/259/alldonations/42804.