New York City: Dead Forever (Until It’s Back)

There are a lot of opinions about what will happen with New York City and its stand-up comedy scene. This post sheds light on the matter.

Future New York City - view from State Liberty Park - palm trees if it were Florida.
Future New York City - view from State Liberty Park - palm trees if it were Florida.
Recently, a lot of speculation has been circulating about whether NYC will recover or die from the pandemic that joined the chat towards the close of 2019. James Altucher’s incredibly pessimistic article in The New York Post claims "New York is dead forever", while an overly optimistic New York Times article by Jerry Seinfeld says that the city will rebound.
Smiley Do you think NYC is dead forever?

Because of such divisive opinions making it hard to know what’s right, I decided to shed some light on the truth in this blog post.

I love New York City. When I moved there it was a cold winter. The snow was falling and you could see your own breath. ”Feels like home, minus the bears!", I thought. It didn’t have palm trees, but it wouldn’t let you take warmth for granted! Extreme seasons in the Big Apple make people more appreciative of other people. The city still has a number of issues to fix and improve, but it is the best in America! Not just because I’m there, but because what other city would have 5 stand-up comedy clubs within one block and 10 pizza places within sight? Sure, sometimes it’s freezing and you’re shivering around, stiff as a penguin, but what can be more charming than warming up in a cozy bar, sipping a neat vodka (no ice) with a friend? Where else in America can you have the luxury of not needing to own a car? Take that D train, and don’t worry about getting a DUI!

Smiley Do you miss the NYC subway?

James Altucher believes New York won’t come back. “Not this time.”, he confidently concluded in his article. I thought, “I’ve heard that before”. It sounds like what a skeptical person would say. I imagine that each time anything dramatic happens in New York City (and anywhere really), there is somebody who puts on a serious face and declares “Not this time! Not this time!” After the 1918 Flu, Prohibition, The Great Depression, and the 9/11 attacks, a lot of people said “New York is never gonna be the same again!”. But it is still there, standing. Humans have got something fantastic about them, which is our imperfect memory. Those skeptics won’t even remember what they said after 3-6 months!

Pandemic in the West Village, March 2020, taken by Michael Makarov's Pixel 3.
Pandemic in the West Village, March 2020, taken by Michael Makarov's Pixel 3.New York City

Not everyone is like James ‘“Not this time!”’ Altucher— a talented and skilled man with kids, and a native to the city of his own dreams. The willingness to go somewhere retirement-like is understandable.

Jerry Seinfeld assumes everyone hates working remotely, but I wonder who will disappoint him with the sad reality. A lot of people actually prefer working remotely, and many of them do not like face-to-face human interactions. They’ve gotten too comfortable “going to work” to face a laptop screen, pantsless at their dining table.

Smiley Do you wear your pants during your work meetings at home?

Yes, a lot of companies will allow remote work and a lot of families will move out from Gotham.

True, a lot of people who hated New York and stayed there just because of work can go somewhere.

Yeah, a lot of people who wanted to work remotely and travel will be gone. Good-bye!

Empty Times Square, Covid Pandemic, March 2020, taken by Michael Makarov's Pixel 3.
Empty Times Square, Covid Pandemic, March 2020, taken by Michael Makarov's Pixel 3.New York City

Sure, real estate will go down a little initially, but those who want to move to the city will do so.

And New York City will be the same again, but better. The pandemic is just the filter that causes only people who want to live in NYC to live in NYC.

Some people like to stay away from megacities and gravitate more towards gorgeous mountains and tall trees for cabin life, or beaches with practically clear water and pink sand, or needle-sharp cacti and dirt. But most single people also love to go on real dates, and not hide their right hand in a “romantic” zoom meeting.

Smiley Have you ever had a date in Zoom?

NYC doesn’t offer beautiful waterfalls or low taxes (goddamn, de Blasio!), but it offers a delectable social layer of smart people, which are the best audience for stand-up comedy.

Disclaimer: I have some level of credibility because I did both what Jerry Seinfeld and James Altucher suggested. After the pandemic kicked in, I moved to your favorite: Florida. I do think the palm trees are pretty and the blue ocean is warm and inviting, but I also do not like enjoying this beauty all by myself, and I value the social layer over the tropical paradise. One week, two weeks, three weeks in Florida are fine, but then you have the urge to return to NYC and meet and surround yourself with humans like you. That’s not to say there are no smart people in Florida, they’re just too distributed!

Don’t judge me hard. As a Russian, all we’ve got in America is Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach and South Florida’s Sunny Isles! “Love” them both!

New York is going to be dead forever, well, until COVID stops being a threat. Once a good remedy is ready, the “forever” will be over and everyone will come back to celebrate, drink barrels of wine, and look to the pandemic through the prism of stand-up comedy at comedy clubs. Yes, NYC is definitely going to change. I can’t wait for global warming to fully arrive so the palm trees perfect for hipster Instagram posts rise on our Brighton Beach. Cheers!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, suggestions, please reach out to me!

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About the author

Michael Makarov is an NYC-based comic and a software engineer. He started his standup journey in 2014 in San Francisco, he sold out his first show in 30 minutes when the link made the top of Hacker News. Russian immigrant, he also speaks fluent Japanese and enough chinese to order food at restaurants. He runs Comedy vs. Nerds and Comedy Conspiracy, a standup comedy show about the internet. Other articles: 7x7 article