I have a new story in Vice. I travel to Cuba to learn more about the Havana stand up comedy scene. Just as Cubans have dealt with shortages of food and other general goods for decades, the island’s comedians have to use their ingenuity and resourcefulness when comes to making political jokes. In Cuba, comedy provides a family-friendly refuge from an everyday life, and an opportunity to inch up to the line of what no one can say out loud.
On the night I visit, it’s La Esquina de Mariconchi’s 874th show. The crowd filling Teatro America, in the heart of Havana, a beautiful art deco theater, encompasses all ages and fills the 1,600 seats. This is what you do on Thursday nights when you don’t have readily available internet: You go out to see a show.
As Cuban comedian George Smilovici puts it: “In a country that suffers a lot, where you have so many problems, and people are under so much stress, you have to have humor. Humor is not a luxury, like in Australia. The poor suffer more—the poor need more jokes.”
Check out the entire story on Vice