This is not exactly what we expected from the sixth year of Bright Club! It has been such a surreal year, for all of us. But especially in performing arts spaces, the culture and scene we had at this time last year is gone. Live events are in hibernation, existing in the flattened space of online, which enables some types of connection while obscuring others.

The buzz and energy of a live, in-person event is hard to replicate. We’ve all become familiar with the difference between a video call with a friend, and an in-person chat or pint, and we can be grateful for the former while terribly missing the latter. It’s hard not to yearn for the shared community of a night at Bright Club, laughing with others and learning something new, even though we are very grateful to our audiences and performers for using the chat box, and just the chats, to keep us feeling like we’re all together somewhere.

But in some ways, our online events have been more accessible than ever before – they no longer run only in major cities, and can be logged into from any tiny village in Ireland, or in fact anywhere in the world. We’re able to get a greater diversity of speakers now that we don’t have to physically transport them to our gigs, and for people with caring or mobility concerns, signing on to watch an online gig is dramatically more straightforward than schlepping to the event space of a pub late at night. We’re hoping that even after COVID clears, hybrid modes of organizing informal events like Bright Club will predominate: who’s in the room, and who’s being streamed to, or from, and all those whos making a larger audience and community.

It’s been six years since the first Bright Club event in Ireland, which ran upstairs at 4 Dame Lane in Dublin, and was a massive experiment in whether or not anyone would come to a variety night that wasn’t just science, wasn’t just comedy, wasn’t just arts or research but somehow brought together all of those things. If you had said to us then that in six years’ time, we would have run 85 events, started a podcast You’re Up Next, commissioned new comedy, and run Bright Club training everywhere from Ireland to the US, Kenya, Norway, and a ship off Antarctica, it would have been pretty hard to believe.

It would have also been hard to believe that we would run a year (or more) of events fully online. But here we are! Comedy is an amazing way to share knowledge and to connect to each other, so we are sticking it out here at Bright Club, and we hope you’ll stay by our side.

Our next gig is coming up on Wednesday, and we have an amazing lineup of Women In Tech. See you there?