STORY: Location: Caracas, Venezuela
Stand-up comedy is booming in Venezuela as an escape from daily problems
Young comedians are filling the void left by veteran comics who fled the country's economic crisis
Samuel Rodriguez performs at his pizzeria several days a week in what he describes as a kind of catharsis
Samuel Rodriguez, Pizzeria Owner And Comedian,
"People want to be distracted, and they don't want to be distracted by hearing more of the same problems. Now the dynamic is different, and we are grateful for that. We all seek to distract ourselves from the country's situation with comedy, even though we, as comedians, don't want to go back to those issues. Not because of censorship, but to avoid tormenting ourselves with it."
Yet for all the gags about daily life, they tend to steer clear of political jokes
The public and comedians alike are worn out by issues like power or water cuts and growing income inequality
The influx of entertainment venues comes after the government relaxed economic regulations three years ago
Locals say new opportunities to get onstage have been a boon for young comedians
alongside an uptick in video-based social media like TikTok
[Jeneil Tovar, Venezuelan comedian]
"It's just so good when you find a purpose in your day-to-day work, getting the laughs, which is instant feedback. People come up to me after the show. For example, once a lady came up to me and said: 'Oh, today I had a horrible day, and my son told me to come. But you came on stage, and I got relaxed.' And it is great; I didn't have to do a six-year medical degree to make someone feel good; I just did a stand-up course."