24 Great Minds on Being Creative in the Time of Quarantine


What have you been reading, watching, and/or listening to?
I read the local daily newspaper, Prensa Libre. To put this crisis in perspective, I have recently reviewed the introduction in Boccaccio’s The Decameron and am about to read El amor en los tiempos del cólera, by Gabriel García Márquez. And I have just finished bingeing Tiger King. And I am listening to my usual music: Bad Bunny.

The comedians caught up via Zoom—Megan from her apartment in Brooklyn.

Photograph by Nick Stalter

Catherine from her boyfriend’s family’s place in the Berkshires.

Photograph by Brian Muller

Megan Stalter & Catherine Cohen

The alt-comedy queens are transforming Instagram Live into a comedy club for the COVID-19 era. GQ’s Luke Leifeste got hold of them to discuss how social distancing is making social media more powerful—and humor more vital.

Catherine Cohen: How is quar going for you, baby girl?

Megan Stalter: I’m very up and down. I’ll be crying for two hours and then on Instagram Live dressed as a farmer.

CC: Raise your hand if you cry-sobbed today. [Both raise hands] Okay, switching gears. What’s the role of com in a pandem?

MS: It’s helped watching my friends’ IG Lives, but it is crazy how many people go Live at night now.

CC: If I don’t go Live, I’ll vaporize.

MS: We all have to do whatever we can to make ourselves and other people feel good.

Photograph by Brian Muller
Photograph by Nick Stalter

CC: You do so much crowd work in your set. Are you able to do that on Live?

MS: You know how you can let people in the video with you? Now I have regular people, and I’ll be like, “Oh, they’re back.”

CC: The comment feature is cool, but it lags so much. There’s not the immediacy of a crowd. I miss that goo-goo-ga-ga laughter.

CC: My mom tuned in and commented, “I feel like I’m watching you as a little girl in the living room putting on your little dances.” I’m like, “Mom, tug at my heartstrings in front of all my followers!”

MS: I got teary-eyed watching you. Even though this is horrible, it’s like, “Oh, this is what we’re meant to do because we won’t stop.”

CC: I’m never gonna stop singing in my house. Do you feel like we’re gonna be in a coffee-table book about this time?

MS: [laughs, then very seriously] Yes.

CC: You’re in a coffee-table book. You’re being taught in history classes.

MS: I miss you so much.

CC: Talking to you is the only medicine I need.

Tim Blum (left) and Jeff Poe, by Blum & Poe artist Julian Hoeber.

Artwork: © Julian Hoeber, courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo

Blum & Poe

The L.A. gallery veterans have an air of indie swagger that’s rare in the big-money art world. Now they’re reconsidering the role of the gallery and imagining a new kind of art-viewing experience.

Galleries like Blum & Poe serve a certain civic role, given that five days a week anyone can walk through their doors and vibe on the culture. With stay-at-home orders currently in place, Jeff Poe, cofounder of the gallery with Tim Blum, believes it’s time to retool existing protocols. “Shifting online is what’s happening out of necessity,” he says. “But we can only see art on a flat screen. Scale is lost. It’s harder to feel. End of the day, the engagement is, and always will be, fundamental.”

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