Tim Allen Talks Navigating The Pandemic As A Comedian And One Way It Has Deeply Affected Comedy Shows

Tim Allen in Last Man Standing
(Image credit: Fox)

Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing ended its lengthy run last season and it sounds like that ending was rough on the actor, though it gave him the opportunity to dive back into stand-up. Prior to that, the Fox series was not immune to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry, getting disrupted and missing several episodes in a lengthy list of network shows that faced challenges. In fact, the pandemic is one of the reasons the series had so much trouble getting Kaitlyn Dever back for the final episodes. However, if you talk to Tim Allen, set problems are only the tip of the iceberg that he’s seen over the last couple of years. The comedian recently revealed he’s dealt with an even bigger impact at comedy shows and explained how he's been navigating the world as a funnyman, sometimes not-so-successfully. 

In a new interview, Tim Allen was no-holds-barred when it came to his thoughts about how the pandemic has changed aspects of everyone’s lives. While he’s been able to get back up on the stand-up stage, he revealed one major problem that he’s encountered since getting back to live events: He’s had some trouble telling when jokes are landing or bombing due to the masks, particularly during some recent sets in Las Vegas. He told WPTV West Palm Beach it’s made “a big difference” and that he had no idea if he was hitting until someone told him afterward.

[It's a] big difference for a comedian to hear that muffled laugh. It wasn't satisfying because it seemed like people didn’t like it. ‘No,’ they said, ‘You got a standing ovation.’

The actor and comedian also spoke out about the outdoor shows that went down earlier in the pandemic and how things have changed at indoor venues, largely dependent on whether or not mask-wearing is happening. So he’s had to adjust his expectations for what’s working and what’s not. That's also true even when he's trying to navigate his day-to-day as a comedian, as well. 

Tim Allen revealed he has a tendency to want to poke fun at what’s going on in the world, but given the severe nature of Covid-19 – a pandemic in which he himself has lost people – he says comedy has become a “tightrope” and notes he’s not always doing or saying things in a way that sticks with every audiences. 

It's a tightrope. I have a family member that passed away. I have neighbors that have passed away. Then I've had hundreds of thousands of people, a lot of which I don't know, that had [COVID-19] and didn't know they had it. This [has] been a very difficult navigation for a comedian. Is it funny for me to do? I printed out hats for a while that just said F-Covid on it. I was so angry with how it was separating my family that I was mad at this virus. Then some people at a local store said, ‘You think this is funny?’ And I had to say, I laugh sometimes because I have nothing else to give. … Sometimes it’s not appropriate, and that’s OK too.

Tim Allen went on to say we’ve all been impacted by the pandemic in myriad ways, but I still think it’s interesting to hear how comedians are navigating a situation that’s been so serious and so impactful on a global scale when their inherent jobs are to make people laugh. It’s a topic that Jim Gaffigan and other comedians have touched on as well, with Gaffigan revealing to Joe Rogan in his podcast a while back that he wasn’t sure about doing pandemic jokes, but that they ultimately made their way into his Netflix special, Comedy Monster, out late last year. And that's not even counting the disruptions to comedy shows after funny people have gotten sick and more. 

Tim Allen had some show dates in early and late February, and will be back at the Mirage in Las Vegas in March, continuing through the summer. In the meantime, some venues, like Disney World, have already loosened mask restrictions. For Tim Allen, it sounds like he's looking forward to knowing when his jokes land again. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.