The comedy show must go on

Nov 13, 2020

Power Plant Production has produced in-person shows, like this show from last month. Tonight's show will be held over Zoom and broadcast through Facebook.
Credit Courtesy of Matt Plant

We are all long overdue for a good laugh.

That’s why Kenai Peninsula College and Power Plant Productions are hosting a virtual stand-up comedy show tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Kenai Peninsula College Showcase Facebook page.

Actor-comedian Jamie Lissow is headlining. Lissow splits his time between L.A. and Fairbanks, and will be performing from his Alaska home tonight.

In addition to the scripted jokes about current events and living in Alaska — which he says is one of his favorite subjects to joke about — some of Lissow’s act will be improvised.

“I get really bored of my own material. I get sick of it,” he said. “And so if you do a little improv or make up stuff at the last minute, I think it keeps it more of a live show for somebody, as opposed to them checking out your video online or something.”

The four opening acts are all from Soldotna — Fred Koski, John LaPlante, Natalie Merrick and Mat Plant. They’ll perform from a room at the college, with no live audience.

This is Plant’s first virtual show. He says his sets tend to be about his life growing up in an Italian-American home with his overprotective, loving mom.

“I've performed comedy maybe over a dozen times over the last couple years,” he said. “There's not a whole lot of opportunities up here in Alaska. So we’re trying to build that comedy scene as we go.”

Plant’s company, Power Plant Productions, will be producing the event.

Dave Atcheson runs the KPC Showcase Series. He said the college is putting on the show because it’s been a tough year and everyone’s in need of a laugh.

“It’s a little nerve wracking because I want all the technology to work. I would much rather set chairs up for a live event and make coffee than have to worry about this,” he said, laughing. “But our IT guy, Rob Lewis who’s going to be there, assures me that it’s going to work.”

For the comics, the virtual setting creates a unique paradox: You’ve gotta read the room without being able to read the room, said Plant. Though they'll be able to hear some laughs from an unmuted Zoom audience.

“I know the disadvantage I’ve been thinking about is it's going to be, as a performer, you feed off that energy from the live crowd,” he said. “And you’re able to gauge the reaction from the crowd and then kind of move your show in whichever direction the crowd wants to take it.”

Which is not to say there aren’t any plus sides for the audience.

“I mean, there’s some advantages,” Atcheson said. “You’re at home. You can have an adult beverage.”

Get your fanciest pajamas on and tune into comedy night at 7 on the Kenai Peninsula College Showcase Facebook.