Early July, the lights turned on in a small black-box theater in Manhattan. The Armory finally returned to the stage after a year of virtual comedy performances. The audience was small, all masked, but excited. As the COVID-19 vaccines roll out and become more accessible, small venues such as this are returning to in-person shows. Returning is strange, but the performers are happy to be back.
Melissa Canon Parker is a longtime member of The Armory who has performed on their improv comedy house teams and other resident shows. These include the fan favorite Shot4Shot, a drinking game set to a real movie that comedians–regardless of age, gender, race or size–act out. She felt awkward and uncomfortable returning to the stage, but said, “I’m not even sure where I’m going. But man oh man, is it so much fun!”
Performing improv on Zoom wasn’t easy, even for expert artists. Technical difficulties happen, sometimes making things awkward or slow. Everything has its perks, though. “There was definitely a learning curve in patience, taking turns to speak, challenges in the reliability of internet speed or technological capabilities for teammates. As a full-time mom, it was instantly easier for me to participate and attend shows,” Parker said.
Some took every chance to perform online and others worked behind the scenes. Armory member Michelle Drozdick returned to her passion for writing. “The circumstances of the past year allowed me to write much more than I ever have before. I have a few screenplays and pilots now, along with short stories and poetry that have actually been published in small outlets that I’m really proud of.”