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Jul 26, 2020

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

By this point in the pandemic, after months of social isolation and working from home, a lot of Americans have probably had it with Zoom, the video conferencing platform. But you have to admit that nothing says quarantine quite like hearing a stray turn signal or a baby crying in the background of your work meeting or virtual family gathering.

Comic Nore Davis has heard it all because when New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic back in the spring, and comedy clubs shut down, he started doing stand-up comedy shows via Zoom, telling everybody in the audience to keep their microphones on. Here's a clip.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NORE DAVIS: It's not like a regular comedy show, but it is. We out here, baby. This application is used for research, but [expletive] that. We're using it for comics.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: We are - I can feel the application - like, what the hell are you doing? Get off of this.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: It started as a way to get his creative energy out and stay connected to fans and fellow comedians during lockdown. Also, Nore Davis has sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder that puts him in the high-risk category for the coronavirus, so he's had to isolate since March. But working on his Zoom comedy was also a way to laugh through the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVIS: Because the quarantine really did, man - it made everybody face their problems that they were running from. And I was running from my own problems.

MARTIN: On his show, Davis jokes about some of those new challenges, like figuring out how to help his young daughter do her schoolwork.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVIS: Science you discover. English you write. Gym you play. Math is, like, solve this problem.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: Like, I'm 6 years old. I just got here. What do I have to (unintelligible)?

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: Come on. Carry the one. Why can't it just walk?

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: It doesn't have legs.

MARTIN: Many other comics turned to Instagram or Twitch when they went online. But Davis felt Zoom had a clear advantage because it allowed him to hear the audience response in real time.

DAVIS: Zoom is the only one where you can actually get a reaction. I need the reaction because the audience is my tool. Like, I always think about, like, stand-up as a player, and the instrument is the audience, you know what I'm saying? So the audience is my saxophone.

MARTIN: Davis' latest album, "LIVE From The Comedy Trap House," was recorded entirely on the video conferencing platform. And 90% of the content was written during the coronavirus quarantine. He calls it a pandemic time capsule.

DAVIS: There'll be a time we're, Like, yeah, a comic made an album in Zoom, and you can hear it. And these are the things that happened in the first three months. And now it is not what it was before. So everything is forever changing, so I wanted to make a chapter in all of our lives that we can go back and remember it - like, wow. That was that time.

MARTIN: And while Davis says he'd like to be done with quarantine comedy via Zoom, he knows he may have to revisit that given the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

DAVIS: As long as Florida and other places in the South are not wearing a mask, I don't see us touring anytime soon, so I might have to dust out the old mic and log on.

MARTIN: That's comedian Nore Davis. His newest album, "LIVE From The Comedy Trap House," is available for streaming now.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAY-Z'S "ENCORE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.