Today we have the super talented and recently quarantined comedian Leonard Chan visiting to relay his recent experience being quarantined on a cruise ship during COVID-19, holy hell!
So I went on a cruise.
For the record, we tried to cancel this thing, but we would have lost 100% of the monies, so we went. We knew it was a bad idea and things went from bad to worse as we watched from the middle of the ocean as the world tore itself apart over frozen food and toilet paper.
We were supposed to disembark last Saturday, but the morning our ship arrived, the governor of Puerto Rico declared a national emergency and they had to negotiate with the city of San Juan to let us in. There was nothing we could do but wait to see if we now lived on a boat.
They put on some movies to try and keep us entertained. They played “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” and “A League of Their Own”, both starring Tom Hanks and I gotta say, if you’re trying to distract people from the coronavirus, maybe don’t play movies starring our most famous actor with coronavirus.
A few hours later, it was finally confirmed that Puerto Rico was not going to let the ship dock and we were now in limbo. Being on the water while this was unfolding, it wasn’t clear how serious things were on land, but the gravity of the situation began to dawn on all of us.
People were freaking out.
And then, after what seemed like forever, word came down that we would be allowed to dock in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and now I have to say something I never thought I’d say: Thank god for Florida.
Florida is wonderful.
Florida does not care what diseases you have.
So we were on our way to Fort Lauderdale which was an extra two days and a million dollars worth of fuel away.
They told us that alcohol would be free for the remainder of the cruise, everybody cheered, and the party began. Turns out, the only difference between Lord of the Flies and Animal House is an open bar.
But despite the revelry, there was still an undercurrent of fear. Vacation was about to end and people had no idea what kind of lives they were going back to.
Now normally on cruises, they have shows every night. But entertainers come on and off as needed, and given this extra time was unexpected, there was a paucity of performers. The cruise director was scrambling for entertainment beyond Tom Hanks movies to calm the drunken hordes so I let him know that I was a comedian and offered my services because, in a time of crisis, we all have to step up and I stepped up.
As a comedian, this is basically the closest I’ll ever get to raising my hand when someone says, “Is anybody here a doctor?”
I’m basically a doctor now.
Someone tell my parents.
So as showtime approached, passengers who desperately needed a laugh piled into the room, half scared that they would die of coronavirus and half scared they were about to be subjected to 45 minutes of amateur comedy.
I’m going to skip ahead, but the show went swimmingly and ended in a standing ovation.
The cruise finally over, we got off in Fort Lauderdale amidst idiot spring breakers who don’t believe in social distancing, flew home just ahead of the borders closing, and now I am in self-isolation for 14 days with an incredible tan that nobody will see. I don’t know when I’m going to get to do comedy next so I’m going to hold onto that standing ovation in my heart like a validation camel.
I know a lot of my comedian friends are worried. As stand-up comedians, it is exceedingly difficult to convince employers to pay us to work from home. Many of us have lost gigs and much needed income and we don’t know when this will turn around again. It’s scary times right now.
But what I learned on that ship is that people need comedy. Especially in scary times. We need people to talk about the scary times, to find the truths in them that make us laugh, to make them a little less scary, and when we’re allowed to go out in public again, the public will be there to see us.
So for now, be safe, wash your goddamn hands, and just know that we will make it through this if we work together.
But not, like, together together.
Stay the fuck away from each other.
Listen to me.
I’m basically a doctor now.
P.S. If I can do anything for anybody (remotely, of course, because quarantine) please let me know.
This article was originally published on Leonard’s Facebook page.
Born and raised in Toronto, Leonard performs stand-up all across Canada. He has been heard on CBC’s The Debaters and Sirius/XM radio, published on CBC Comedy and the Beaverton, and seen on stage at JFL42 and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. He also has two degrees in engineering which he now uses only as punchlines.
Download Leonard’s comedy album peanut butter & jellyfish today!