After a year like this, everyone
could use a good laugh.
Luckily, thanks to the efforts of Arcade Comedy Theater, Pittsburgh can experience the fun and joy of stand-up comedy in a safe, socially distant environment once again.
As a result of the changes to daily life in the pandemic, Arcade Comedy Theater began adapting their shows to accommodate for new safety measures.
Their new outdoor shows are held in a small urban park known as “The Oasis.” Located on Seventh Avenue, just down the block from the Benedum Center, this small concrete park is transformed into a cozy, intimate space surprisingly free of city noises.
Audience members are separated at socially distant tables by their reservations. Each table and chair is cleaned ahead of the guests’ arrival, and hand sanitizer is available at every table. All audience members and performers are required to wear masks at all times.
As if these shows couldn’t be more appealing, the staff, audience and performers actually abided by all predetermined guidelines.
Sunday night featured headline comedian Erik Escobar whose darker, edgier style perfectly juxtaposed his very noticeable school girl giggle between each of his jokes. His biting statements about his Mexican and Filipino upbringing brought a breath of fresh air to the event.
Another stand out moment came from opening act Jaye Cooper. A longtime Pittsburgh comic, Cooper finished his set with a hilarious parody of Katy Perry’s 2010 hit single “California Girls” which he renamed “Pennsylvania Girls.”
Cooper’s song (and equally funny accompanying dance), included all of his grievances with single women in Pennsylvania. His content was wholesome and deeply relatable.
However, the true show stealer came with the second performer, Pittsburgh local and Arcade Comedy veteran, Brad Stephenson. His nearly seven minute bit on his sister’s eccentric funeral in West Virginia left the audience keeling over with laughter.
While the subject of his sister’s death a few short months ago may seem anything but funny, Stephenson expertly acknowledged the hardships and loss associated with 2020, while not letting despair have the last laugh. His set was refreshing and almost cathartic. There was a noticeable, general sigh of relief as Stephenson finished his set.
For the first time for many in the audience, the horrors of 2020 seemed small and laughable. Although it was a moment of laughter and fun, it was clear this meant much more than a joke to many audience members present.
In addition to the gut-busting content, Arcade at the Oasis also features a variety of music and improv acts designed to keep audiences constantly coming back for more. The week of Oct. 4, Arcade at the Oasis will feature a “Level-Up Stand-Up” evening and “Knights of the Arcade,” a Dungeons and Dragons inspired improv show. A wide variety of Pittsburgh comics and performers are set to take the socially distant stage this fall. Outdoor comedy and improv classes are also slated for this season.
Arcade Comedy Theater plans to continue these outdoor events as long as weather and COVID-19 restrictions permit. Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased ahead of time online or at the entrance to the Oasis.
More information on Arcade at the Oasis shows and ticket sales can be found at arcadecomedytheater.com.