The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article about how attendance at comedy clubs has been rising in New Orleans post-Katrina (much like the float waters did - ba-bum-bum!). At one open-mike at Lucy Retired Surfer’s Bar a crowd of 40 is considered a slow night. Thoughout the article there’s also several references to how everyday residents are finding humor in what’s happened from a menu listing high prices for Army MREs as well as maggot refrigerator magnets. (Maggots are also apparently a popular satirical costume choice for this Mardi Gras, among others.)
There’s a fair amount of quotes from New Orleans comics, including Jodi Borrello who delivers the line, “I just got back from Vegas. You’d think the people in Las Vegas would be different than us here in New Orleans, but they’re not. They’re all walking around saying, ‘I lost everything. I lost the car. I lost the house …’ “Some comics aren’t enjoying this unexpected upside of course, because they were driven out by Katrina including the collective Comedy Invasion and the New Orleans’ Humor Mag Studio8.
There’s some attempt in the article to ascribe the interest in all things funny to something in the New Orleans character, but I think it’s something far more universal. Humor is a near perfect adaptation to deal with tragedy, both large or small. Another story across the pond in the London Telegraph tells how British comic and Crohn’s Disease sufferer Gareth Berliner averted his suicide attempt after discovering some laughter in his situation. A laugh is the only sound a mind makes when it’s processing ideas - it’s a little brain explosion that can send thought in a new direction, a direction that helps us deal with our situation. To hear New Orleans is laughing is a sign that at least mentally these people might be OK. Now our government just needs to get off its ass and help them physically.
New Orleans has a few names coming to it soon as well, according to this report on Shecky’s. Doug Stanhope on March 24 at One Eyed Jack’s and Marc Maron on April 7th at Howlin’ Wolf for a benefit to rebuild New Orleans schools. At least they’re showing up, even if the trailers aren’t.