Corona Borealis: A Night of Comedy Under the Stars

For comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show Lizz Winstead, 2020 meant being quarantined alone at her home in NYC during the height of the coronavirus, while watching her hometown of Minneapolis implode after the murder of George Floyd. And then there was that whole election thing. Winstead had a lot to say about all of it, and with no outlet in NYC to let it all out, she packed up, and headed back to Minneapolis to turn her thoughts and feelings into a raw and real comedy special, called Corona Borealis, A Night of Comedy Under The Stars.

Winstead wanted to do this special as in the moment as possible, so it is a total DIY experience. Made up of honest, hilarious, and wholly untested material, this is a video-on-demand comedy experience that is not only brave but, is unlike any other comedy special out there. Shot in two parts, Winstead’s first show was in late September, performed on a rickety stage lit with string lights, on the shore of one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes with an audience of 20 fans, sitting in Kayaks on the water.
With the second half of the special shot around a campfire in the woods, with another socially distanced audience of 20, November 14th, one week after the election results were delivered.

Winstead explains: I wanted to create a deeply personal experience that reflected the emotions we are all feeling, so I was hands on in creating every aspect of the experience. I crafted individual picnic baskets for the audience, so they could enjoy a safe, socially distanced pre-show gathering, and I helped design and build the sets. I had to tape the show in two parts because Kayaks don’t work on a frozen lake so I had to shoot part one pre election but couldn’t leave audiences hanging, so it seemed right to finish the special with a post election fireside comedy catharsis with s’mores, mulled wine and 2 pairs of long underwear. I watched Minnesotans sit in a snowstorm to watch Amy Klobuchar, so I figured they would be willing to do it for me. Mostly because I offered them free booze.

The result is a hilarious and emotional takedown of white privilege, her own and others, the utter incompetence of the handling of COVID-19 and her own undignified struggles with being trapped without human contact during quarantine. And of course it is all set in the emotional backdrop, and eventual catharsis that was the 2020 election cycle. Winstead has created a comedy experience that only the creator of The Daily Show could pull off in the midst of a pandemic.

Winstead chose Thanksgiving week-end as her release date because the material is fresh and in the news cycle and covers all the topics that will be sure to dominate the conversation at the Thanksgiving table and all through the holiday season.

Hopefully folks can watch this together as a family and experience a collective laughter exhale, Winstead says, “or watch it alone and use the jokes to face down the Karens in YOUR family. Either way, I think it’s a win-win!”

As a way to truly reflect 2020, Winstead also wanted to center in her show a shero of hers so within the show is an incredible conversation with Minneapolis Councilwoman, Andrea Jenkins.
Jenkins is the first Black transgender woman ever elected into political office and represents the district in which the death of George Floyd took place. Winstead and Jenkins talk white supremacy, community policing, violence against women and Black trans women, and how can white folks can better advocate for communities of color.