Comedy in Times of Tragedy: The Show Must Go On
After 9/11, the country wasn't in the mood for a laugh break, no matter how brief.
The terrorist attacks left media consumers grief stricken, and even two of the premier funnymen at the time, David Letterman and Jay Leno, stepped cautiously as they segued back into business as usual.
We often say a joke or gag is "too soon," but when tragedy strikes a good laugh might be downright medicinal.
Comedian/actor Kevin Heffernan arrived in Denver this week ready to perform a series of shows with his Broken Lizard pal Steve Lemme at Comedy Works. But they woke this morning to the news that, just a few miles away, a theater showing "The Dark Knight Rises" was attacked by a masked gunman who killed 12 ticket holders and injured dozens more.
Heffernan told Big Hollywood he faced a similarly uncertain situation years earlier when he was slated to perform in New York City the day of the Rodney King riots.
"All the cities were so afraid the violence would spread," recalls Heffernan, who stars in the raunchy comedy "The Babymakers" next month. "We didn't know what was gonna happen."
The gig got cancelled, and Heffernan never faced a potentially stressed out audience that night.
This weekend, the comedian is embracing the motto, "the show must go on."
"I would imagine people want to not think about it, and that's probably why they're coming," he says. "The idea is just to go and do your regular show. They're here to laugh. We're the court jesters, in a way."