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REAL IS VIRTUAL AND VIRTUAL IS REAL

Good news and bad news from Mark Rutte. The good news is kids will go back to school. That’s lucky, because at our house we were going to send kids back to school even if it was still closed. ‘Sit at the gate until 3:00. We’ll pick you up then.’

But bad news for adults. After telling us to get used to living in the new 1,5m society, Rutte gave us no chance to enjoy the ‘new normal.’ 1,5m distancing horeca? 1,5m museums? And why not hair stylists wearing masks? These would have put a lot of unemployed people back to work and put rent money in the hands of landlords who could in turn pay their mortgages. Boom Chicago was hoping to resume 1,5m no touch improvisation classes. Alas…

Although the burden of the crisis is borne by health care providers and those with less secure finances, many are adapting to the ‘new normal.’ Of course by this time we’re used to video meetings, but now we’re becoming pros. We put our laptops up higher, set the lights right and use filters to soften wrinkles. Virtual now feels quite real.

Boom’s business continues to move virtually as well. I ran a great session for Uber’s European and Asian managers last week. It was a Zoom* meeting with folks from as nearby as Amsterdam and as far away as Sydney. I did ten minutes of tailored comedy followed by a half hour of interactive, improv-based, communication activities. The new normal has new rules. Don’t pause for laughs you can’t hear. Look at the camera, not the faces. In the feedback session, people were happily surprised to have found comedy in their day of remote team building and goal setting. (And when I watched a recording of the session, I’m delighted to say they were laughing!)

Virtual is real. A communications and team building session is possible for people on different continents, and in a high quality, no apologies, way. In fact, it’s actually nicer to see people’s faces close up during discussion than to have them less visible in the back of the room. And you thought the only thing that was more visible on a Zoom call was everyone’s dog, cat or child.

The even bigger project was our first live streaming show. Greg Shapiro and I performed Trump Up the Volume, our long running look at the, ah, phenomenon in the White House, while us and the crew all kept safe social distancing. You can see these on YouTube if you like. Our second show, Going Steady, a comedy series with improv and music was live last week and all three episodes are now available.

Our innovative and creative work with digital events with our streaming partner We Are Live ensured a successful project. It can also give an impression of what we can do for your Tailored Digital Event.

Five of our actors also did a super successful virtual corporate show for global market makers, IMC, on Friday. We are in the lucky situation of having our five actors living in just two different places, So our actors can do real, timing-dependent, comedy. With clever use of virtual backgrounds, we could even do the show ‘on location’ from the offices of the audience. (New employee: ‘Wait, if this is the parking lot, why are there so few parking spaces’ Old employee: ‘Exactly!’)

The last virtual event I want to mention was a virtual game night with four friends in Amsterdam and one in LA. We all got on a Zoom call, poured a drink, and played a couple board games. This was our fourth game night in a month. Compare that to the zero game nights I was part of prior to the lockdown. It makes sense: with so much uncertainty and so little ability to see the people we care about and work with face to face, virtual meetups are more desired and more needed than ever. These relationships need to be supported and strengthened during this period so that those real, important bonds don’t become virtual.

Plus it’s nice to see I’m not the only one who needs a haircut

Pep Rosenfeld


PepPep Rosenfeld

As Director of Creative Content, Pep does it all: He’s a high level event host & facilitator, writer, stand-up comedian, public speaker, coach, and developer of innovative corporate programs. A co-founder of Boom Chicago, Pep’s passion is using comedy to make hard-to-communicate messages land and stick, as featured In his 2012 TED talk, ‘Fight, Flight or Make Your Opponent Laugh.’ Pep hosts events like TEDx Amsterdam, The Next Web Conference, The Nordic Business Forum, and the Spin Awards to rave reviews, and he was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on America’s long-running television show, Saturday Night Live.

 

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