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COVID-19

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For health care workers, internet comedy show offers laughs, respite from harsh realities of coronavirus

UPDATED: Mon., April 6, 2020

 (Molly Quinn/The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn/The Spokesman-Review)

The novel coronavirus is no laughing matter. However, those who are leading the charge against the pandemic can use a break and some entertainment. Health care employees in hospitals are working nonstop placing their lives on the line.

Comedians, on the other hand, are dealing with an altered life. With public gatherings forbidden, there are no live shows, but humorists can perform on the internet.

Veteran comic Jane Condon and her friend Kathyrn Rose came up with the “4 O’Clock Funnies,” a 10-minute comedy break featuring Condon and her standup pals.

“If the health care workers can escape for a few minutes each day, then that’s great,” Condon said while calling from her Greenwich, Connecticut, home. “They’re so brave, and we would love to give them some laughs.”

The “Funnies” debuted Monday via Facebook Live. The concept is from Rose, who started the initiative “Coaching for Heroes” on Monday. CFH is about connecting front-line health care workers and first responders with emotional support.

“This program was inspired by the coronavirus,” Rose said while calling from Framingham, Massachusetts. “We’re all stuck in our houses. But some people, such as those in health care, are stuck in hospitals. My mom was a nurse for 40 years. I wanted to give back through ‘Coaching for Heroes.’ ”

The initial CFH idea was comedy for those in health care.

“I told Jane that I was going to read from my 12-year-old’s joke book at 4 p.m. each day on Facebook, and she said, ‘No, you’re not,’ ” Rose said. “Jane said, ‘I’m going to find some comics, and we’ll do real jokes.’ ”

Rose runs the platform, and Condon, the MC and performer, is in charge of finding the talent.

Comics Cathe Farris and Kelly McFarland have been part of the “Funnies” each day during the inaugural week.

“We look at this as the happiest 10 minutes of the day,” Condon said. “I also call it the ‘Happy Hour Before the Happy Hour.’ ”

Each comic does a short set, and each day there is a burning question.

What is your favorite comfort food was Monday’s question. “Dark chocolate almonds” was Condon’s response.

What scares you the most was Tuesday’s question. Farris went with teenage drivers.

“We’re just trying to distract people,” Condon said.

Condon will get regional. “Everybody loves Washington state,” Condon said. “I would like to thank Washington for giving us Amazon, Microsoft and Nordstrom. If it weren’t for Nordstrom, I wouldn’t have any shoes.”

Condon has spent much of her life in extremely well-heeled Greenwich. “But I’m still a nice person,” Condon cracked. “I’m originally from (blue-collar) Brockton (Massachusetts), but I’m not going to hurt you.”

The “Funnies” garnered more than 300 views on Monday and Tuesday. “It’s a start,” Condon said. “We’re going to do this every day. It’s for the health care workers, those who stock the shelves at the grocery store and anyone else who needs a humorous lift. This is the least we can do.”

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