The Whitney alum, 37, is teaming up with some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy for an on-camera podcast event hosted by the Comedy Store on Tuesday, April 21. After the famous comedy club was forced to close its doors in March, they teamed up with The Motion Picture Television Fund to help keep the Comedy Store’s employees afloat during this difficult time. Though stress runs high amid the outbreak, Cummings thinks comedy can be used as a powerful tool to bring people together.
“This is when we have to put our fears aside and we have to figure out how to lighten people’s day, and we will,” the I’m Fine … and Other Lies author tells Us Weekly exclusively. “Sometimes it means not talking about it at all so people have a little temporary respite from it, and sometimes it means just really nailing the observations … There’s still ways to find comedy within what’s going on.”
Though she’s not afraid to bring a little lightheartedness to the current situation, Cummings admits that successful comedy depends on context. Fans expect certain things from certain comedians, and the Made of Honor actress doesn’t think it’s necessary to “switch up your fans’ comfort zone” at a time like this.
“Now’s not the time to switch it up and decide you’re an expert on viruses,” she says. “We have to just be conscious of what is expected of us and be consistent.”
While the things that make people laugh might look a little different in the current climate, Cummings has found comedy in even the most basic actions — including texting her exes while in quarantine.
“All of a sudden the things that really used to grind our gears two months ago, now we’re like, ‘It’s fine.’ I’ve just started forgiving everyone for everything,” she jokes. “I’m like, ‘You had a secret family. Good for you. You just had more love in your life. I hope they’re safe.’ All I care about. It’s like, ‘That girl you cheated on me with, I heard she lives in New Rochelle. Is she OK?’”
The Female Brain star even admits that her standards have changed when it comes to dating. “The way somebody behaves in crisis just says a lot about them,” she explains. “The people who are like, ‘Whatever, it’s not even as bad as the flu.’ It’s like, ‘That’s a red flag. I’m good.’ But then other people who are like, ‘Hey, I’m delivering food to the front lines.’ I’m like, ‘You can slide into my DMs.’”
Though the future of the comedy scene might look completely different when things go back to normal, Cummings and her colleagues won’t give up on the people behind-the-scenes who make their shows run smoothly.
“Comedy is essentially a business where we’re asking strangers to pile into a room, shoulder to shoulder and exhale on each other for two hours and literally take a drink in the dark from a stranger and then put it up to their mouths without wiping it down,” she says. “Our business is kept alive by the waiters and waitresses and bartenders.”
The Comedy Store will be broadcasting its benefit event on Tuesday, April 21, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
With reporting by Marc Lupo
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