Ian Aber remembers those hours-long prep sessions of grilled cheese sandwiches with his husband and mother-in-law. Day-old bread from the bakery. Cheap cheese from Aldi. Slather it in butter.
Remember before coronavirus? That’s when hundreds of people could gather in a confined space, sit at small tables and laugh within spitting distance of one another. The golden days of stand-up comedy. But for Aber – a gay Atlanta comedian for nearly 10 years – in-person performances are few and far between and the days of grilling sandwiches for comedy fans at his “Sweet Baby Cheeses” shows are long gone.
“That show’s dead. We’ll never do that show again. I mean are you kidding me? In a post-COVID world, like ‘Here let me make you a grilled cheese sandwich. Let me breathe all over it,’” Aber said during a new episode of Podcast Q.
“Maybe in a few years, I can bring that back. I think we’re going to have to get to a point where we can breathe on each other before we can give each other grilled cheese sandwiches,” he added.
The show highlighted upstart comics and put them in front of the largest crowds they’d ever seen. Turns out, giving people free food makes them happy – and laugh. Over the course of 10 shows, Aber and his crew churned out nearly 2,000 sandwiches.
“It was one of the most popular shows I did, obviously because we were giving away free food,” Aber said. “You put up these kind of newer comics, and they would have some of the best sets they’ve ever had. And it was fun to watch.”
But coronavirus saps the funny out of everything, and it’s a tough foe for the 47-year-old comedian, who has struggled to find comedy in quarantine.
“You have to seek it out. You have to get off Twitter. Go find something other than what normally feeds your humor. Go read those stupid Buzzfeed articles. So whatever it is you can do. Take that time every day to find something to make you laugh,” Aber said.
“Sometimes it’s hard. There are a lot of things about 2020 that I have not been able to just go, ‘Oh yeah, this is going to be funny,’” he added.
During the Podcast Q interview, Aber also went in-depth about the reboot of his podcast “str8 ppl with Ian Aber” and revisited his take on icy gay audiences. He also discussed why anti-LGBTQ jokes aren’t funny, how gays litter the service industry and finding the love of his life on a Wednesday night at Blake’s.
“I picked him up on Wednesday, so don’t act like you can’t do it. Don’t act like you can’t find the love of your life on a motherfucking Wednesday, you sassy ass queens,” Aber said.
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