Since BPR launched "The Porch" last summer, the news team has produced episodes centered on racial justice movements, policing, the insurrection on the US Capitol, all of this and more, while also navigating an unprecedented global pandemic.
This episode is a little different. We invited listeners to submit funny stories from the past year and compiled them into this episode and online. It’s a community gathering we’re calling “Viral Humor.”
We’ve all felt it. The awkwardness of talking, or shouting, at a cashier through layers of masks and plexiglass. The toddler running around in the background of someone’s Zoom call. The stinging sensation of the gobs of hand sanitizer seeping into our chapped hands.
This is not to say, of course, that the pandemic is funny. No, Covid-19 hurt, all of us. Many of us lost loved ones, struggled with isolation, lost our jobs, put dreams on hold. And it’s not over, we are very much still in this.
But if this show aims to do anything, it’s say “hey, it’s okay if you’re not okay.” And it turns out, laughter -- a little comedy -- can help us cope. It’s the ultimate expression of human resilience.
First up, we'll hear from an expert. David Perdue is an Atlanta-based comedian. He’s performed on Kevin Hart Presents: "Hart of the City" on Comedy Central and the Laugh Your Asheville Comedy Festival. He’ll be returning to Asheville later this month to perform with Modelface Comedy.
Then, we'll hear stories submitted by listeners, Moth Story Slam winner Alison Fields, and local therapists and songwriters M.E. Springelmeyer and Colton Sankey.
"Covid changed the way we perceive everything. My "well this is different" moment happened in October. I'd had Covid that went into pneumonia. I tested negative, so I wasn't shedding virus when I went to a small business in Hendersonville to pick up an order. Of course, I was coughing my fool head off from the pneumonia. Everyone was giving me stink eye. I assured them "don't worry, it's not covid, it's just pneumonia." Everyone nodded and went back to shopping, then we all started to laugh. What a world when "pneumonia" is GOOD news!"
- Collette Mak, Hendersonville
"Last fall I was checking out at a supermarket using the self-service aisle and I saw a man who seemed to be following all the precautions. He was masked and wore medical-type gloves. He was clearly aware of the CDC guidelines. He scanned his groceries and put them in the bagging area, then tried to open a plastic bag without success, so he pulled down his mask and licked a finger. I almost said something."
- Cecil Bothwell, Asheville
"Face masks often make it more difficult to understand each other’s words. This was vividly illustrated to me when I stopped at the customer service desk at my neighborhood Ingles grocery store to pick up some lottery tickets. I asked for “Two Powerball.” The nice young lady behind the counter handed me two packs of Pall Mall."
- Bob Woolley, Asheville
"At 76, I was lucky enough to be one of the first Brevardians to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. On January 13th, one week after the insurrection at the Capitol, I entered the outside door to the Community Room of the Transylvania Regional Library and was vaccinated. As I walked to the recovery waiting area, I noticed two police officers, one sitting on each side of the door to the main part of the Library. I asked if they had just been vaccinated, and one of them replied, “No, we are here in case a mob of irate octogenarians storm the Clinic demanding the vaccine.""
- Thomas Chapman, Brevard
Finally, American Studies professor Michelle Robinson helps round out the conversation with a look at the ethics of comedy. She teaches a course on the subject at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The Porch's theme song is "The Vibes," by Audiobnger. Songs featured in this episode include: "Bossa In My Heart," by Serge Quadrado, "Smokey Mountains," by Ketsa, "Soul Work," by Ketsa, "Cloud Balance," by Ketsa, and "Beach Ballin," by Mr. RuiZ.