With so many music venues, bars, and comedy clubs closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, consumers are trying out new ways to keep themselves entertained. Actor and standup comedian Damon Wayans Jr. might just have an option for the stuck-at-home audience.
Wayans and his business partner, Kris Jones, developed an app called Special Guest, which allowed users to book live, on-demand entertainment, but due to social distancing orders across the country, it has since pivoted to a virtual experience.
"Unfortunately, because you know, in our country's situation we can't meet in person, we can't have these interactions. But, me, Kris Jones, and the Special Guest team adapted to the situation and incorporated a virtual component," Wayans told Cheddar Wednesday. "So, now anyone anywhere can hire virtual entertainment on-demand."
Special Guest co-founder Kris Jones said that pivoting to virtual has allowed them to book diverse performers and acts, with some users even having used the app as a learning tool.
"We're booking a lot more performances with a variety of different entertainers," Jones said. "We had a young 15-year-old girl book a dance professional so that they would be able to practice over these next couple of weeks, so she could make her high school dance team."
Jones said before the pandemic, the service was only available in the U.S., but with the virtual component, it's greatly expanded its reach.
"Literally overnight, once we launched this new technology, it allowed our performers, the talent that is available for hire on the app, to be hired from anyone around the world," he said. "I think this idea of virtual creates a new entertainment experience."