The Barnstormers Comedy Night meets Gogglebox

Written by Shoreham-life

We recently attended the Barnstormers virtual comedy night as put on by The Ropetackle in Shoreham.

This was an online Zoom style event with a live compare and three comedians for the evening. Tickets are priced at £6, less than half of the usual price and an absolute bargain, especially if there are more than one of you. This wasn’t just a Shoreham crowd, though, as there were people from Bedfordshire and Leighton Buzzard joining in with the local populace.

The first thing to strike me and get used to was seeing what would typically be a crowd of people milling around waiting to get into the venue. This was totally different; what I saw now was a crowd milling around in their comfortable homewear in their own homes. It did feel strange at first, seeing people in their front rooms! Still, as the title suggests, it was akin to watching just ordinary people on Gogglebox. Scared yet? Then don’t be, as you have the option to stay incognito and muted, so no one can hear or see you. However, there is something to be said for being able to see and hear people. It gives it atmosphere and a live presence; after all, it is a comedy night. As such, you hear the laughter coming from the sofas and armchairs to give it that authentic feel of live comedy.

After a couple of minutes of people-watching, you totally get used to the feel of this live online event. The Barnstormer visual crowd almost feels as though they are a part of the show as well. The compere for the night was Sally Anne Hayward, who set the tone of the evening brilliantly. Her wit was first class and, like all good comperes should do, she picked out random people from the Zoom crowd to interact with. You could hear the echoes of laughter coming out from different sofas and armchairs. She got the individuals chuckling along with her. This typifies why not being incognito is really a good thing. I was amazed at how relaxed the online crowd actually were and also how respectful they were. There was no talking over the comedian/compere and no loud background noises spoiling the live event. This must have felt a little strange for Sally as she sat there in the comfort of her own kitchen, with her headphones and microphone. No matter, she had the crowd laughing along with her quick wit.

The first of the three comedians was Mark Simmons, who, for me personally, was my favourite of the night. His humour was very Tim Vine-esque. His comedy was more along the lines of lots of short funny jokes. A couple of times, the punchline was missed as you couldn’t quite hear it due to the laughter of the online audience. As is usual, he interacted with members of the audience but all in very good taste. His set lasted about 20 minutes and set the tone of the comedians for the night very nicely.

Comedian number 2 came in the form of an upper-class storyteller, Troy Hawke. He was slightly eccentric looking and wearing what looked like a smoking jacket. His style was more along the lines of a story and picking out members to interact with. Again this was done in good taste, but I couldn’t help finding myself drawn to the public members and watching their laughter. This was entertainment in itself. The watching public all looked very relaxed and seemed very comfortable when picked out by the comedians. From what I could see, most people had decent broadband as the screens were very clear… sorry I digress…Back to the comedian…another great set and fantastic to have a contrast from comedian number 1. Very entertaining and very funny.

The last set of the night came from Rob Rouse. He was full of energy, a bit like an elastic band being fired off. His style was very much of a visual manner. For those of you that were there, then all I will say is two thumbs in a Zoom meeting!! Sorry, an inside joke, obviously. Rob genuinely looked so pleased to be playing to a live (virtual) crowd. He had set up a string of blue lights to give himself some atmosphere in his garage, I think. Once more, the comedian delivered the goods and had the online audience in stitches. I’m sure his set ran over quite a bit as he did not want to go; such was the enjoyment he was having of playing live.

Now I’ve been to the Barnstormer nights previously at The Ropetackle, so I wasn’t quite sure if this virtual evening was going to work as well. I can honestly say it was an excellent evening in the comfort of my own home. This was a different kind of comedy evening but, we have to say, it did work.

Our thanks to The Ropetackle for putting the evening on, and it was good to see live comedy again. The next Barnstormers live comedy night is on Saturday 19 June, which will be a seated evening at The Ropetackle. For further details, visit:

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