In these grim times, thank goodness for people making it their mission to distract us from the challenges of living through a pandemic. One of those people is Westmeath comedian Alison Spittle, creator of the instantly memorable #CovideoParty on Twitter.
The idea is simple. Spittle makes a poll and asks people to choose between four movies that are available on Netflix. Thousands of votes are cast, and the Covideoparty community watches the winning movie that night. Everyone presses play at the same time, enjoying virtual chats about everything from the snacks they are eating to their take on the movie.
“I came up with it because I was bored out of my mind, and some gigs that I had planned were understandably cancelled because of coronavirus,” says Spittle from her home in London. She had to cancel a gig in Liberty Hall because of the crisis. “It was a way to amuse myself, keep in touch with friends. Thursday was manic after Leo Varadkar made that statement. I just asked does ‘anybody want to watch a movie with me?’ and it snowballed from there”.
Since she began the social media project the films have included Clueless, Legally Blonde and Matilda. For Matilda on Sunday night, people dressed up as various characters and posted pictures on Instagram. Spittle was Miss Trunchbull.
The comedian says she has lost significant income, as many artists have over this period, and was encouraged by fans to set up a ko-fi account. People have been donating to it in support of her social media antics.
“I’m pretty much treating it as a full time job at this stage,” says Spittle. “I have a sort of war room in my flat, with two laptops keeping track of everything. It’s a distraction for everyone and for me. I have people at home I’m worried about as everyone does.”
The joy she has created gives her the same feeling as stand up. “I got into comedy because of that feeling of making a whole room happy ... I feel like I am working in a holiday camp, with my comedy friends coming up with activities and schedules”. She is also organising a Fake Mass each Sunday with a carefully curated playlist.
“The feedback has been amazing,” she says.
If you want to watch along tonight, she is watching the original Jumanji at 9pm and there is even a prize for the best fancy dress.
To get involved see #CovideoParty on Twitter.