The troupe's goal is to "boost morale, encourage social mask-wearing, and help make staying at home a little more enjoyable."

Street performers, musicians, performance artists, and other creatives have felt the strain of venues being shut down and people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic. When one’s livelihood and income depend on performing for large crowds, the last two months have been extremely challenging. 

Denver immersive performance art duo The Handsome Little Devils have not let the lack of crowds stop them from bringing smiles and delight to the people of Denver. The duo is made up of husband-and-wife team Mike and Cole Huling, vaudeville performers, who have delighted crowds in Denver and around the country for two decades. They have started Project Joy Bomb, surprising people with amazing surprise street performances and are spreading magic in places one might least expect it. 

Project Joy Bomb
Photo by Marsden Media, Courtesy of The Handsome Little Devils

They show up, and suddenly, that lunch break or shift change is full of music, acrobatics, juggling, and joy, which has made everyone who has seen the performances smile, laugh, and remember what joy feels like for a little while. 

Rather than take their art online, these artists decided to take their work directly to the people because that's the very nature of their work. They are working with other performance groups in Denver to surprise people and spread some joy. Additionally, they are trying to help get PPE into rural hospitals, partnering with arts educations organizations, food donation services, and local PPE making networks. 

“Project Joy Bomb is a series of socially-distanced, art-based activations throughout Colorado, with the goal to boost morale, encourage social mask-wearing, and help make staying at home a little more enjoyable. We are working with community leaders, neighborhood associations, and city officials to bring responsible, safe and joyful celebrations to people in need. We are also partnering with multiple organizations to pair Joy Bomb events with PPE delivery, food donation pickup, and mental health breaks for first responders and healthcare workers.” Cole Huling. 

The group recently performed a Joy Bomb for healthcare workers and patients of Denver Health at a shift change. Check out the video below:

The pop-up performances have been met with praise and delight; the group plans to keep doing them as long as possible and has started a GoFundMe to support the project. In addition to dropping more pop-up performances, they're raising funds to rent a truck and deliver Joy Bombs and PPE to rural hospitals in Colorado. 

“People say that the show must go on, but it takes the Handsome Little Devils to figure out how this can happen during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now, perhaps more than ever, we need imagination, a smile, creativity, empathy, and humanity… so it really matters when the Handsome Little Devils roll their Joy Bomb into neighborhoods.  It’s sort of like the Grinch on acid bringing presents back to all us Who’s down in WhoVille.” -Rich Kylberg, Vice-Chair, Colorado Symphony

You can check out the project website and GoFundMe and can request a Joy Bomb for someone you know that needs one. This is another great story about the creative people of Denver, who simply will not let a pandemic stand in the way of doing what they love, and helping spread a little joy on the process. Have you seen one of their performances? What do you think about this kind of pop-up performances? Sound off in the comments.