DUBAI: All artists need to reinvent themselves to cope with changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, a veteran stand-up comedian said as he ventures on a four-country Zoom comedy tour that will kick off in the UAE.
Indian comedian Nitin Mirani said it was tough to adapt to how the entertainment industry is changing due to the pandemic, which forced a global shutdown of art and culture communities.
“Because of the pandemic, we have to now reincarnate. We have to be reborn. This is something we’ve never done before,” he told Arab News via Zoom, an increasingly popular platform not just for business meetings anymore, but also for the live-entertainment industry.
Although Mirani said he is enjoying the new experiences the pandemic has put him in as a comedian, he added that comedy is about “making moments with people,” which was been made difficult.
“Every art form comes with its own energy. I know that no matter how much you try, how hard you try, watching something online won’t give you goosebumps as much as watching Celine Dion hit one note live,” he said. “That’s the genesis of artform. It requires interaction. It’s an exchange of energies.”
Echoing Mirani’s sentiment was poet Dorian Paul Rogers, who founded Abu Dhabi-based culture and arts organization Rooftop Rhythms in 2012, and has been involved in virtual projects since the start of the pandemic.
“When you’re in person you get the spirit of the community — it’s palpable. You see people’s facial reactions. You see people snapping their fingers, laughing,” Rogers said.
“Our show is definitely a community-based show. That was my biggest fear — that the show may feel impersonal or may feel disconnected.”
But Rogers said there have been “many benefits to doing virtual events,” including being able to reach many people outside the region, both as audiences and performers.
Mirani and Rogers believe that the world needs art now more than ever as it struggles to overcome the impact of the pandemic.
“I feel like continuing these events at any capacity during the COVID-19 from a virtual standpoint is important because a lot of us need that connection,” said Rogers. “We lost that feeling of belonging. I believe that arts communities are critical for that reason.”