'Bored to tears' comics finally find a pandemic audience: a liquor store lineup

Andrew Albert performs a short stand-up set in NDG on Friday, May 22, 2020 as part of "The Lineup." PHOTO/Gabriel Omassi

For the last two months, Montrealers have been patiently waiting in lines—for groceries, COVID tests and everything else they need.

But some of the most ever-present lines, many locals would agree, are the ones for the SAQ. At most of the liquor outlets people snake down the block, with everyone properly distanced.

Three weeks ago Paul Silverman decided this was perfect. A comic and a fan of Montreal’s stand-up comedy scene, he could see that everyone was “bored to tears” in quarantine, the comics included.

So he decided to set up a show specifically for the people who happened to be waiting in line outside an SAQ in NDG this Friday afternoon, carefully not telling anyone in advance, since he “didn’t want to get a ticket” for creating a crowd.

“We’re not promoting it. We’re not advertising it. We don’t want people showing up to the show,” he said.

Five comics agreed to perform on the sidewalk to people lined up on Sherbrooke Street. They had microphones and a speaker but nothing else.

They were asked to perform “tight five-minute sets” to avoid attracting people passing by. But it was also partly because the audience was, of course, in line, and even SAQ lines don’t move that slowly, Silverman said.

He decided to call the entire event “The Lineup.” But when he announced the event on Facebook on Friday evening—after the fact, when no one could show up—one commenter suggested they should consider themselves a kind of aid group, maybe “Comedians Without Boundaries.”

No one in the audience could be reached for comment.

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