MAY 24, Edmonton Sun – TAIT ON 8

We need to laugh. We need to have humour in our lives. Now, we need it more than ever.
I do not have a medical or science background.
Yet, I find an Alberta Health Services order to close down The Comic Strip comedy club last week — without a facility walk-through — somewhat, well, one-sided. The explanation from AHS is since the West Edmonton Mall comedy club has entertainment and causes laughter, droplets from that laughter can spread COVID-19.


    <p><br /><br />For the past few hours I have tried to imagine what my life would look like without laughter. And I can’t. <br /><br />Humour has cracked the thickest icebergs for me. It has unlocked bolted doors and has turned off the most ultra state-of-the-art alarms, so I take countless opportunities to use it. <br /><br />It even dabbled in romance: my wife remarks, every day, one of the biggest reasons she married me is I make her laugh. <br /><br />We need to laugh. We need to have humour in our lives. Now, we need it more than ever. <br /><br />I do not have a medical or science background. <br /><br />Yet, I find an Alberta Health Services order to close down The Comic Strip comedy club last week — without a facility walk-through — somewhat, well, one-sided. The explanation from AHS is since the West Edmonton Mall comedy club has entertainment and causes laughter, droplets from that laughter can spread COVID-19. <br /><br />Comic Strip owner Rick Bronson and I enjoy a 25-year friendship. Along with Ken Valgardson, Rick helped me achieve a lifelong dream of trying live comedy. In fact, I had the pleasure of opening for Rick on tour in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. <br /><br />He recognizes AHS concerns, and has a plan to address them. <br /><br />“Allow us to put a plastic shield in front of the stage,” Rick said Saturday. “We’ve already taken precautions by putting wind socks on the microphone to catch any flying fluids from the comedians’ patter as well as the addition of individual microphones.” <br /><br />As for masks: “All of our staff wear masks and we encourage our customers to do the same. We do not enforce it with our customers, but if AHS deemed it necessary we would gladly oblige.” <br /><br />Rick is under the impression AHS is looking to flash the green light to reopen in Phase 2 of the province’s plan. <br /><br />That could very well permanently unplug The Comic Strip. <br /><br />“Quite simply, a business our size will not be able to sustain without the current government subsidies that have been put in place,” he said of the Canadian emergency wage subsidy and rent assistance programs. <br /><br />“The CECRA would’ve covered 75 per cent of our rent for April, May and June. Getting open with our fellow restaurants on May 11 would have allowed for us to operate for six weeks under government assistance. Not opening until late June or early July will mean that we miss out on that grace period to try and get our heads above water.” <br /><br />He adds the government wage subsidy ends Aug 6. <br /><br />“I appreciate that the AHS is in between a rock and a hard place … I’m not asking them to immediately allow me to open back up. <br /><br />“I’m asking them to come look at what precautions we’ve put in place and see if there is a happy medium that could make this work.” <br /><br />COVID-19 has changed our world. But the key to adjusting to any change is adaptability and flexibility. And, working together in an open relationship. <br /><br />My all-time favourite memory of Rick came in January of 1995 in Tantallon, Sask. We had just finished a show and Rick had the car warmed up for our 10-hour drive to Edmonton. <br /><br />A middle-aged woman stopped me. <br /><br />“I have cancer and five months to live,” she said. “You made me laugh, and you have given me new hope.” <br /><br />I did not do that. The gift of laughter did. <br /><br />Let’s work with one another never to silence it. </p>
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