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Audience Shift

Yes comics are struggling to get back into pre-COVID form, but veteran comic Freddy Stebbins sees a change in audience demeanor, too.

by Chuck king
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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Freddy Stebbins notices a difference in audiences now that they are starting to emerge from their COVID-19 hibernation.

“They’re a little bit more timid, I’ve noticed,” Stebbins said.

Accustomed to performing four nights per week prior to the pandemic, Stebbins’ Oct. 15 show at Biergarten marked only his second gig since mid-March.

Stebbins compared comedy to golf, where constant practice is necessary to create the timing that produces good shots. Comics, Stebbins explained, rely on similar timing with their audiences.

And the change in the audience’s attitude and behavior is affecting the comic-audience relationship.

“It’s the first time a lot of people have gone out on a Thursday and so they are excited, but not like they would usually be in the past,” Stebbins said. “It’s hard to explain. And that affects the timing a little bit.”

APPLAUSE BREAKDOWN

VENUE: Biergarten, 309 Via De Palmas, Boca Raton, Fl.

LINEUP:
Nadeem Awad (Host)
David “Sadman” Sadaka
Randy Vega (Featured)
Freddy Stebbins (Headliner – Miami’s Ultimate Comic 2017)

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: While Stebbins admitted to a little rust, the audience didn’t seem to notice. He kept patrons enthralled by introducing them to a series of his characters, closing the show with his most most famous: a portrayal of flamboyant Puerto Rican fortune teller Walter Mercado predicting the future love life of audience members. Divining from an audience member:

Stebbins: “Pieces?
Patron: “No.”
Stebbins: “Libra?”
Patron: “No.”
Stebbins: “Gemini?”
Patron: “Yes.:
Stebbins: “I knew it.”

BE OUR GUESTS: Awad took a break from featuring to serve as the night’s host, even donning a teal blazer midway through his opening bit to add a touch of comedic class to the evening. Sadman, a relative newcomer to the stage, continues to refine his bits. Vega received huge laughs when he wondered aloud how he could possibly be a “Puerto Rican ginger.”

WORKING THE ROOM: A table celebrating Mary Beth Joya’s birthday kept that side of the room energized. The night ended with cupcakes for anyone who wanted to help celebrate. Of course Lori Dawn Langon was part of that table. It’s at least the third time in the past two months she’s brought someone to a Biergarten comedy show on their birthday.

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THE COMICS’ TABLE: National comics Bret Ernst and Flip Schultz attended the show. Ernst has previous performed at Biergarten, and Schultz will headline the Oct. 29 show at the venue. …Dan Long and his wife Minda also caught the show.

QUOTE: “I thought it went well. I was a little nervous because I’m more a of a South Miami comic. I do a lot of ethnicities – Cuban, Haitian, gay, all that stuff. Boca is more of what I’d call a regular crowd – more of a regular American crowd. It’s more like standard, good comedy. Whenever I come up here it’s more of a challenge. It’s more of a standard set you have to do. For me I have to weave in my accents and all the weird sh*t that I do but also be cognizant of the fact that many of these people don’t know all of the Miami-isms.” – Stebbins

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