Editor’s Note: Welcome to The Last Show, a new Vanyaland series where we talk to performers about their last traditional live appearance before the pandemic hit. As we slowly make our way out of this mess, and a return to stages appears to be coming (eventually), here are the stories of bands, artists, comedians and others who performed their last live gig in front of an audience around this time last year. These are their shows, their stories, their memories.
Vanyaland When and where was your last show before the pandemic?
Ted Alexandro: March 5 in Grand Rapids, MI [at Van Andel Arena].
Who else was on the bill?
Jim Gaffigan. I’ve been touring with Jim for about six years and this was our final show before I shut down for the year.
What was notable about the show?
I remember the weird uncertainty of that time with all the unknowns. I was starting to have mixed feelings about being around so many people. This was just before all the shutdowns and before masks were mandatory.
What do you remember the most about the show?
I remember two things. First, the very real sense that “Wow, this could be it for a while.” I didn’t know it would be over a year but I knew it would probably be longer than I’d ever gone without performing since I started. And the second thing I remember is that we met the Vikings QB and his wife backstage before the show. He wasn’t that much bigger than me, which made me feel good. Like maybe I could have played QB in the NFL even though I never played organized football.
If someone told you live comedy would be going away for at least the next year, what would you have thought?
I probably wouldn’t have believed it. It was hard to fathom at that point but if you saw what was happening in other countries, you could sense it was a matter of time before it hit here.
If someone told you live comedy would be going away for at least the next year, what would you have done differently?
Maybe saved some more money. We just moved in October so that was hectic. But that was the beauty of this period — not to make light of all the loss — but it was an interesting challenge to figure out each day. It was a constant fight between dread and infinite possibilities.
What do you have coming up or coming out?
I have a new album coming out. It’s my third album of the pandemic which is nuts (the first two were Stay at Home Comedian and Cut/Up.)
This one is called The Lost Album. It’s put together from shows I did in the ’90s and 2000s. It’s material I’m proud of, a lot of stuff I did on Letterman and Comedy Central specials but I just never put it on an album. And I’m doing my podcast The Ted Alexandro Show on Rokfin and YouTube.