If you're working from home during this pandemic, you've probably gotten used to conference calls.
Allentown native and local comedian, Richie Warmkessel, started hosting "Sick Jokes- A Virtual Open Mic" last week.
"So many people do comedy and music and perform all over the Lehigh Valley," Warmkessel remarked. "Its crazy because in an instant, that all stopped."
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We sit in on a virtual open mic.
Richie knew that many local performers would miss stage time when Pennsylvania businesses and performance venues closed two weeks ago. He decided to use Zoom conference calls to help comedians connect and give others stuck at home some love and relevant entertainment.
Janear Hankerson took the video stage to try our some new material and says comedy is her outlet. She says she misses having an audience and that joining a virtual open mic also put some structure in her work-from-home life.
"I haven't really gotten dressed in like a week and a half, I've only gone to the park for walks," Hankerson says. "I was very excited and appreciative that he put this together and gave everyone who does this regularly an outlet to do this."
After ArtsQuest Comedy shows, movie screenings and live music performances were cancelled at SteelStacks, they launched ArtsQuest At Home to provide entertainment digitally.
"ArtsQuest has always prided itself in being able to offer the kind of programming that allows you to relax, enjoy and dance your face off if you want to," said Ryan Hill, Programming Director at ArtsQuest. "So, it's strange for us to not be able to do that in the venues that we are used to, but there's so many talented people on this staff who have a passion for entrainment people and making sure people can get through these tougher times."
If you go to ArtsQuest's website, you will find live streamed concerts, virtual comedy classes, toddler story time, Star Wars story time and much more. The ArtsQuest Cinema Team will host live movie talks about streamed movies to provide the best ingredients of a sleepover.
"We're going to have nail polish, and I might do a face mask while we talk about this movie," said Addyson Young, ArtsQuest's Cinema and Comedy Coordinator. "So, its going to be casual and we're going to make it like a slumber party vibe."
While much of the digital programming offers entertainment, just as much provides opportunity for participation and engagement.
"I think this is really important to not only have a performance you can do from home, but to get some feedback and connect with people," said Young. "To have a schedule, these things happen at a specific time and you have to be somewhat dresses, and I think that normalcy is helpful."
If you'd like to join "Sick Jokes", find @RichieWarm on Instagram.
For ArtsQuest at Home, visit Artsquest.org/AtHome.