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Chicago Stand-Up Comic Hosts Virtual Open Mic Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

By Charli Renken

Chicago Stand-Up Comic Hosts Virtual Open Mic Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Comedian Lauren Harsh hosts “Cabin Fever,” a virtual open mic for the Chicago stand up scene.

The comedy scene in Chicago is having a difficult time right now, with many open mics and showcases being canceled or postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak. Laugh Factory, for instance, announced on social media that all of its locations will temporarily close during the pandemic. One comedian isn’t letting that stop them from telling jokes, however. Chicago comedian Lauren Harsh (they/them) is now hosting Cabin Fever, a weekly virtual open mic to keep their comedy muscles spry.

Lauren Harsh. Photo courtesy of comedian.

Harsh started doing stand-up in Chicago about a year and half ago at open mics and showcases. When the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, they worried about how it would affect the comedy scene in Chicago. “We were all gathering in groups at dives bars and touching the same mics so if one person [contracted COVID-19], everyone would get it,” Harsh explains. With all bars and restaurants in IL closing, finding an open mic venue is difficult.

The concept for Cabin Fever fittingly started out as a joke during a conversation with one of Harsh’s comic friends. “I said ‘If one of us gets infected, we should have a quarantine open mic’, and she laughed but then, later on, I thought, ‘Wait, hold up; what if we actually did a remote mic?’ ” And with that, Cabin Fever was born.

Cabin Fever virtual flyer. Courtesy of Lauren Harsh Comedy.

The concept is simple. Comics interested in signing up for the mic should message Harsh’s comedy page on Facebook. Call time for comedians is every Fri night 5:30 p.m. in a Zoom video chatroom, which is also where the show takes place. The mic starts at 6 p.m. and usually runs about two hours. What a brilliant way to keep the Chicago comedy scene alive and thriving during the coronavirus outbreak!

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Those interested in attending or participating in Cabin Fever should follow Lauren Harsh Comedy on Facebook for the latest Zoom link each week.

Feature photo screenshot of Cabin Fever open mic. 

Tags: comedy