As comedians and other entertainers are seeing months’ worth of gigs disappear from their schedules, at least one group is getting some relief. Improv Asylum has received a $25,000 donation to pay the wages of the mainstage actors, musical directors, and technical directors in its Boston and New York City theaters for March and April. Dan Faneuf, a Boston attorney and former Improv Asylum mainstage actor, stepped up to cover the group of 14, who usually receive paychecks as part-time employees. According to Improv Asylum cofounder and CEO Norm Laviolette, the money should start getting to them next week.
Laviolette says even before Improv Asylum and its sister club, Laugh Boston, closed their doors last week, the organization had lost over $150,000 in private bookings. While it’s entertainers who work gig to gig who are hit especially hard, he says, they’re the ones who are lifting everyone else’s morale. “Everything that people are using right now to get through this crisis — streaming, watching TV, listening to music, podcasts, comedy specials — these are the people who make it.”
Laviolette would like to see others take Faneuf’s lead and help out small businesses. “If you have a favorite corner bar, find out how much it costs for their staff for a month, if you have a means to pay for that,” he says. “Your favorite neighborhood breakfast shop, how much is their rent? Can you and three other people pay their rent for a month? I certainly understand that many, many people can’t do that. But there are those who can.”