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The brighter side of the coronavirus crisis

Written by on 27 mai 2020

For so many reasons the coronavirus lockdown was, and for some still is, a trying time. But to help others along, some brilliant people with some truly heartwarming ideas. Louise Buttler is a pilates instructor, and together with her husband started a free live Instagram workout every day at 12.30pm British Summer Time.

“My husband and I filmed ourselves doing a reformer session, and we put it on our Instagram. Off the back of that, I just got lots of responses saying people wanted to join in. So then we thought it would be really good for us as well to keep ourselves fit, we will do it every day and we will do it five.”

Noam Cartozo, a French comedian, actor and director based in Paris, turned quizmaster for confinement. Every night for his neighbours he put a unique spin on well-known French game show “Questions pour un Champion”.

“Je me suis dit pourquoi pas faire un blind test musical avec mes voisins, et au fur et à mesure j’ai fait une série de questions et c’est devenu “Questions pour un Balcon.” Je faisais à la fois le jeu avec les voisins, et après j’enchaînais sur un live d’Instagram d’une heure chaque soir.”

And finally Jay Flynn, a local pub landlord in Lancashire in the United Kingdom, came up with the idea of a virtual pub quiz which went viral, curiously totally by accident after he created an event that he thought was private, and to say the least it went public.

“I did a quiz on a Thursday night to 30-40 people. When they shut the pubs down, I decided that I wanted to keep it going for my friends and some of those quiz teams that I played with and I played against, and it went viral. I set an event up on Facebook while I was sat at work on the Saturday. On the Monday, I got a message from a complete stranger asking how the quiz would work on Thursday night. I thought I had better had a look at the event, and there were 800 people interested at that point. It was 20,000 by the time I went to bed on Monday night, and I double-checked in the morning and it was already at 100,000. By the time it came around to the actual night of the first quiz, there were half a million people interested or going to the first quiz. So I set a Facebook page up and said to people if they wanted this to continue every Thursday, come and join on the Facebook page and we had over 100,000 people sign up straight away.”

Louise’s pilates studio welcomes no more than four people at a time. Jay’s pub quiz before lockdown had 30-40 participants. Now, their audiences are global. 

“I’m now managing to reach all across the world. I get messages from France, Italy, Australia.”

“I’ve not turned up with some sparkly jacket and a TV studio and tried to make it something it’s not. I’ve kept it as close as I can to the roots which is it’s a local pub quiz for local people. It just so happens that those local people are spread across the whole of the world. I am just an idiot who sits in front of a camera and asks 50 questions to however many people are watching.”

Jay has already set a Guinness world record for the most viewers in a quiz Youtube live stream, and received a community award from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He has raised nearly £400,000 for charity, and plans to continue all of this far beyond the crisis.

“So we’ve raised just over £370,000 for the charities we have supported, which are NHS charities and Alzheimer’s Research UK. We are discussing things like a tour. So, our way of helping people get back into the pubs, we would bring the Thursday Night Live quiz live from a pub across the country. A lot of the messages I do get are to keep this going after lockdown. For a lot of people this is their night out, they can put their child to bed and have a glass of wine and play the quiz like they used to.”

Noam and Louise have also been inspired to continue their fantastic initiatives in some form post-lockdown.

“Ça va sortir en séptembre, il s’appelle “Il y a du monde au Balcon.” C’est toutes les questions qu’on a pu poser pendant ce mois et demi de confinement. Mais j’ai vraiment envie de profiter là-dedans. Que ça soit à télévision, que ca soit a la radio, que ca soit sur Instagram, ou que ca soit à l’avenir au cinéma j’espère.”

“Going forward I definitely want to keep doing these virtual sessions. It’s made people have routine everyday doing it at lunch time and 25 minutes is easy to do in the day.”

Of course such breakthroughs offer a fantastic business opportunity.

“I’m going to launch in June a subscription. So I’m still going to go live every day so that people can join me every day to keep their motivation up. Then, they’ll be able to access the videos on demand through my website.”

Louise, Noam and Jay all agree on the best part of their somewhat revolutionary 8 weeks. The fulfilment of helping people and creating such uplifting communities is something that cannot be matched. 

“A group of seven households, who live in a cul-de-sac, all sit on their driveway, and they all have firepits. They call themselves the “firepitters.” Up until last week they have all been watching it and playing against each other on their own devices. Last week, they sent a picture to me that showed they had a big projector screen, and they were beaming it onto someone’s house. I just imagine that if they are just one small fraction, then there are so many other different fractions that are doing things like that. Knowing that it is lifting people every week, and seeing some people who say they don’t know what day of the week it is unless it’s Thursday because the quiz is on, it’s just brilliant to know.”

“Maintenant dans le quartier, tout le monde connait le prénom de tout le monde. Il y a un vrai élan d’amitié qui s’est créé à la suite de ce jeu. Le 10 mai au soir, c’etait tres tres emouvant ce qui s’est passé. Tout le monde a applaudi, vraiment comme au théâtre, comme une standing ovation.”

“It’s a time when I’ve been able to reach and connect, and actually the best thing is give people happiness in the day.”


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