Laughter is the best medicine. There is a lot of truth to this old saying and we are reminded of this every day during the pandemic. Just months before the pandemic struck, WDET started a new series of live performances called “What’s So Funny About Detroit?”
WSFAD is designed to be a fundraiser for WDET which showcases the comedians as integral members of the region’s arts & culture scene. The station handles all logistics of finding a venue, selling tickets and compensating comedians. Typically, we air the performances at a later date. In the future, we plan to offer a podcast including conversations with the comedians and their routines.
With a captive audience, WDET publicizes the station and our arts and culture programming. The events are heavily promoted with recorded promos, live reads and extensive social media. The comedians also push information on their social channels. It’s socially distanced, hilarious fun as WDET showcases some of the most talented, diverse voices from the city’s independent comedy scene.
Not knowing what was just a few months around the corner, our first event was on November 7, 2019. It featured some of the most diverse voices in metro Detroit. Although comedy is the genre, WSFAD intentionally brings together a diverse group of performers including LGBTQ, transgender, Black, Hispanic and Arab comedians. WSFAD is hosted by Ryan Patrick Hooper of WDET’s Culture Shift, our daily 2-hour show that looks at Detroit’s lively arts and culture world.
When the pandemic hit, and we canceled all live performances. But we knew the show had to go on –people needed to come together and share laughter and good times. In July 2020, we headed to the stages of an area outdoor drive-in movie theater for two more versions of WSFAD. With appropriate social distancing, people parked their cars, turned to a drive-in audio frequency and watched as acts were projected on the big screen. These were sell-out events and audiences of more than 400 people laughed through the night and honked their horns with delight.
WSFAD closed during the winter but came back strong in the summer of 2021. Our first performance was in July at a local bar with a large outdoor seating area. This was wildly popular and WDET is following up with another performance in August.
In the words of one of our performers, “If only for a second, I can take someone’s mind away from what’s going on with laughter, that’s what keeps me motivated.”