For some, the days of COVID-19 couldn’t end any sooner. Especially if you are Norm Laviolette. You see, made a vow a long time ago that he now regrets and yet, he is keeping his word. Others would have given up a long time ago and many people would forgive Norm if he gave up now, but the man is determined. And maybe a little crazy.
Laviolette is the owner of Improv Asylum and Laugh Boston, two Massachusetts-based comedy clubs which have been closed since early last year due to the pandemic. On May 1, 2020, he vowed to jump into the ocean every day until his venues re-open. He’s not trying to tempt God, but his reasoning is a bit lofty. He’s performing the stunt to raise money for out-of-work performers and artists.
“My daughter challenged me to jump in the ocean by our house on May 1st. It was cold but I thought, “Hey, why not do this every day, raise awareness for my clubs … and give me a little routinem” says Norm. “I then made the pronouncement that I would do it every day until the clubs re-open and make it a fundraiser for out-of-work actors and artists through our non-profit, never imagining it would go past 100 days, at best. I am an idiot.”
Laviolette admits that he has made some terrible choices in his life and this is one of them, but for over 300 days, this man has jumped in the ocean, or some other outdoor body of water for his cause. This wasn’t so bad when the weather was warm, but wintertime is a different story. Still, he keeps plunging.
“I take it one day at a time,” he says. “It’s like my own weird self-help program. In December I didn’t worry about January, I just think about dunking today. I figure, if you make a point of doing something on the hardest days, then it makes all the other days feel a little bit easier.”
Norm has raised over $5000 for artists so far, which is a passion for him.
“For a lot of people, the only thing getting them through the pandemic are tv shows, music, and movies — all created by artists. Art and music and comedy and drama… they’re literally getting us through this nightmare,” says Laviolette. “And so many creative people are out of work and will be for the foreseeable future, I just figured I do a little something to help out.”
And Norm tries to mix things up here and there wearing different costumes and whatnot. And he’s taking special requests.
“People can donate money and suggest a costume or theme or shout-out. So far I have dunked dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Indiana Jones, and Superman Jumping off a bridge. Donations of $50 or more and you can suggest a theme or costume, shout out to someone, or join me in a plunge. If you would just like to ridicule me, then that costs nothing.”
You can follow Norm’s adventures by visiting his Instagram page. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.improvasylum.com/norest.
(Main image: Improv Asylum)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.