Let’s admit it – Zoom calls are not ideal for stand-up comedy. It may be better for an audience as everyone gets a front row seat, but for the comedians themselves, it goes beyond the usual hassle of muting, un-muting and buffering. No matter how many in the audience, performing the set is an especially singular experience, the atmosphere is the polar opposite to what live comedy should be and if a joke falls flat, there is absolutely nowhere to hide.
this forty minute show provides some guaranteed laughs
Despite this, Henry Churniavsky’s show begins and it’s clear that he generates a natural warmth and charm. Whatever nerves there may have been, they certainly didn’t show. Virtual audiences want to feel safe in the hands of a capable comedian, and it’s clear that Churniavsky is the man for the job. His grinning audience seems pleased to see him.
The routine starts with the elephant in the room – the ever-growing normality of virtual meetings and Zoom culture. The initial few minutes of the set had the feeling of a fun online gathering, with several bookcases and interiors all on display for judgement. This immediate inclusion of the audience let down the collective guard and made for well-earned laughs in the following forty minutes.
Describing himself as “a unique blend of Jewish and Scouse”, Churniavsky starts off with a series of jokes about “regular” Zoom meetings versus “Jewish” Zoom meetings, a routine which features some good general observations, but lacked the development and depth to be particularly memorable. I felt this was the case of a few of his routines: some potentially interesting topics were mentioned, but were not explored as much as expected, instead relying on some quick gags which didn’t pack as much of a punch.
Zoom comedy shows have demonstrated that, not only does the comic have to be funny, but they have to keep an audience under control and engaged for up to an hour. This is where Churniavsky shines. He’s a natural emcee and his frequent chats to the audience made the set a lot more relaxed and intimate. His material got even more intimate when he shared his unique take on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website. The genuine ridiculousness of the source material made for some very funny observations and the reveal of a few punchlines in this routine was outrageous in all the best ways, a real highlight of the night.
Overall, this forty minute show provides some guaranteed laughs, which is something that we could still all do with right now.