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This comedian put on ‘SNL’ by himself. It’s a delirious glimpse of COVID-19 entertainment

Ian Abramson staged a one-person variety show on Saturday night, and the snippets are a fever dream of live entertainment in the age of coronavirus.

This comedian put on ‘SNL’ by himself. It’s a delirious glimpse of COVID-19 entertainment
[Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Comedy Central]

Everything is really weird right now. We’re stuck at home. Hollywood production has ground to a halt. Sure, we can use this time to watch classic movies that are bespoke to our mood, but live entertainment, which has been a staple of our viewing pleasure since . . . Aeschylus? . . . has been imperiled by physical distancing and fear of spreading COVID-19.

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We do still have the internet, though, and the last couple of years has seen a boom in live streaming, especially thanks to Twitch. So with the news that Saturday Night Live would not air its next three regularly scheduled shows on March 28, April 4, and April 11, comedian Ian Abramson took to Twitch for the first time to perform Saturday Night Quarantine—more or less by himself.

Unfortunately, the entire live show is not archived, so it exists today in gleefully anarchic fragments that give you a sense of Abramson’s unbelievable commitment to the bit. [UPDATE: See below for the YouTube playlist that Abramson posted on Sunday of pre-taped versions of his sketches.]

Here’s a taste of the inevitable political cold open, with Anderson Cooper interviewing President Trump:

Then there’s the title sequence, which alone is a brilliant statement on New York City in the quarantine era:

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From the glimpses available on Twitch and Twitter, Abramson did a Jeopardy sketch (of course), tying in Tom Hanks, David S. Pumpkins, and Forrest Gump; he did a motion-capture bit with his cat where there’s both the visual gag and the joke itself, which pays off nicely; he had a pre-taped digital video; and an X-Men bit in which Abramson starts to shave his head rather than wear a bald cap.

One hopes that Abramson will put up the complete clips and maybe even the whole show somewhere on the internet. It shouldn’t have to be merely a fever dream that you can try to piece together from the short bursts of disjointed madness on display from watching all the clips on a Sunday morning.

If it doesn’t kill him, Abramson should do this again, too. [UPDATE: Abramson says he will be back next week.] Or perhaps other performers should pick up the baton and make their own SNL homebrew. It may be bathtub gin now that there’s Prohibition and the distilleries have been converted to make hand sanitizer, but it’ll still get you buzzed. And it may be the future of entertainment. For now, at least.

Here’s the YouTube playlist of Abramson’s dress rehearsal versions of his Saturday Night Quarantine:

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