From care work to shelf-stacking, many standups have taken up positions to survive lockdown – highlighting how privilege has created a two-tier system in comedy

On 16 March, when Boris Johnson advised people to avoid taverns and theaters, the effects on live slapstick was instant. “That night was like Take Me Out when all the ignites go off, but with my diary, ” says standup Lauren Pattison. “The first month of work travelled in the room of a couple of days.”

In 2017, Pattison eventually became a full-time comedian after years of working in restaurants, shops and barrooms to support her standup career. Soon after, she was nominated for best beginner at the Edinburgh Comedy accolades. Now, she’s working in a supermarket. Pattison had gotta go back to Newcastle upon Tyne a few cases weeks before lockdown to save money for the Edinburgh fringe while living with her mothers. Like many standups, she relies on live comedy for the bulk of her income, gigging most darkness of the week. Some gigs are rescheduled for later this year, but, says Pattison, “I’ve got to mentally and financially prepare for the fact they might get pulled.”

People assume I’m gutted that I’ve had to get a job but to me it’s the most sensible thing to do

There are more working-class voices on the live circuit than in writers’ rooms or on TV

Related: Seriously funny: political comedians on humour in grisly occasions

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