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Punctuality is having a moment

In recent years, comedian Mike Birbiglia has become something of a spokesman for the virtues of punctuality. In a Netflix special, “thank god for the jokes”, asks audience members to applaud if “you’re late”. Amid applause, he says, “What people who are late don’t understand about us, people who are on time, is that we hate you.” She offers the line while latecomers find their seats. “Welcome to the show,” she jokes.

That was a routine I did before the pandemic. Now, he told her in an interview, sticking to a schedule has become even more important. Like many other comedians who turned to podcasts and other side jobs when live shows largely disappeared from their schedules, he’s busier than ever.

“I’m trying to focus on two years of work that I couldn’t do with all the work I have now,” said Birbiglia, who has produced 73 episodes of “settling the matter,” a podcast in which he and guests like Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman and Bowen Yang talk comedy and sometimes try new material.

A change in people’s relationship with the clock has also affected the restaurant business. “Since the pandemic, we are seeing a real increase in online reservation activity,” said Debby Soo, CEO of OpenTable, the digital reservation company. “Whereas there used to be more walk-ins, now people plan ahead and schedule their meals.”

Diners are also booking earlier reservation times, he said. Patti Rockenwagner, an owner of Dear Juan, a Los Angeles steakhouse once owned by Frank Sinatra. “People who used to eat at 7:30 or 8:00 pm now eat at 6:00 or 6:30, because they’re not traveling,” he said. “They don’t run home after work to change their clothes and, in fact, they are actually ready to leave their homes at 5:30.”

Earlier prime time and the continued popularity of outdoor dining amid continuing waves of coronavirus have complicated running a restaurant, Ms Röckenwagner added.

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