The Culture legacy of the pandemic may not only be shows canceled, careers derailed and theaters and clubs closed. There has also been innovation, like the emergence the virtual comedy club.

What began out of desperation has matured into a new digital genre that has drawn sizable audiences in the habit of buying tickets to live streaming standup from the comfort of their own homes.

On a video call from her San Francisco home, Jill Paiz-Baroque, the chief executive of RushTix, perhaps the biggest digital comedy club, made the case that the lockdown only accelerated an already inevitable revolution.

''Why did Netflix eclipse television?'' she rhetorically asked. ''It's streaming, unlimited, global. Why did Spotify eclipse terrestrial radio? It's streaming. It's global. It's unlimited. And that's why livestreaming with RushTix eclipses Live Nation eventually, because it's streaming, it's global, it's unlimited.''

Many are skeptical, including fans who badly miss being surrounded by echoing laughter and stand-ups who are exhausted by performing for screens and who widely prefer telling jokes in the same room as crowds.

While conceding that nothing replaces the traditional comedy format, Paiz-Bourque said the doubts will look as shortsighted as early mockery of Twitter, podcasting and so many other common Internet forms.

She has good reason for such swagger.

Paiz-Baroque's business, which she calls ''a Silicon Valley startup'' regularly sells over 1,000 tickets to see comics like Sarah-Silverman. Patton Oswalt and Maria Bamford.

In February, she sold 15,000 tickets to eight shows, bringing in close to $280,000 in revenue.

''Once we get our first taste of 5,000 ticket shows, that was intoxicating,'' Paiz-Bourque said [Colleen Ballinger, the popular YouTuber best known for ''Mirinda Sings,'' was the breakthrough artist].

As touring resumes, Paiz-Bourque is tweaking her vision, moving away from a tight focus on those headlining and radically increasing volume. By the summer, her goal is to produce five shows a day, every day.

In other words to live up to the slogan that appeared on her site before a recent show : ''The biggest comedy club on the planet.'' She said she wasn't worried about clubs reopening because ''I have more supply than I have access to.''

In the next month and a half, she's rolling out nine original, interactive series, including competitions [''Very Punny With Kate Lambert''], a cooking show [''Baking It Better With Tom Papa''] and a dating one [''Find Your Boo With Reggie Bo''].

She's also adding closed captioning, a subscription package and new technology that allows patrons to move around the ''club'' and hear different levels of laughter.

The overall vision is to produce new work with emerging artists during the week while doubling down on headliners on Friday and Saturday nights.

How will she compete when stars are eager to tour and return to live stages? Simple, she says : Make comics offer ''worth their while.''

The World Students Society thanks author Jason Zinoman.


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