'It feels like I'm in a weird TV series': Minnesota comedian details shift to virtual shows

A little bit of laughter can go a long way, which is why a Minnesota comedian is finding ways to keep the jokes coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

His comedy shows and open mic nights are reaching new audiences all thanks to technology.

Ali Sultan is used to performing in comedy clubs five to seven nights a week, but now that everyone is staying home because of the coronavirus, Sultan is taking his act to a different stage.

“It feels like I'm in a weird TV series,” he said. “If you told me two months ago I would be doing standup comedy on Instagram and Zoom, I would have called you crazy.”

Sultan is hosting online open mic nights for local comedians on Monday nights on Instagram as well as virtual distancing comedy hours on Saturday nights on Zoom.

He said the shows are a way to stay connected to his fans and other comics during the COVID-19 crisis, while keeping up his writing and performance skills at the same time.

“The medium is not the greatest medium. Nothing is going to be like real standup. It’s still fun to play with it; it's satisfying my itch for sure."

Unlike Instagram, Sultan said Zoom allows the performers to get reaction from the audience in real time even though they are not in the same room. He said video conferencing also lets him bring in comedians and fans from all over the world.

“I have people tuning in from the south, from the Midwest, from LA, from New York, from Canada - I even let in the Canadians, that's how generous I am," he joked.

And in these uncertain times, Sultan said having something to laugh about is no joke.

“They say it was fun to laugh, fun to feel normal again, fun to see people smile…having an overwhelming reaction from the audience and the other performers as well,” he said.

Sultan said when things get back to normal he will probably stop the open mic nights, but he'll probably continue the Zoom shows because they are so much fun. 

To catch live open mic shows on Instagram: follow Ali @alisultancomedy

For Zoom shows, email Ali through his website: alisultancomedy.com