Can you remember the sound of a room full of strangers laughing (not at you – that would be bad)? Can you remember what it feels like to be part of a round of applause, your claps saying ‘well done’ to a performer on stage?
There was a time during lockdown when I had forgotten what it was like to be part of an audience – I didn’t watch any of the NT Live plays and I did not watch comedy on Zoom because I knew it wouldn’t be the same as live.
I wondered whether I’d ever be part of one again, wondered whether a night out would ever involve ever going out again.
Lockdown rules quickly separated people into haves (have a car so can drive anywhere they pleased) and have nots (and advised not to use public transport so were stuck between choosing whether to go to Co-Op or Sainsbury’s).
And even when the rules about entertainment were relaxed they seemed to favour car owners who wanted to watch a film or comedy or a DJ while parked in a car park or field surrounded by other metal boxes on wheels as if they are part of some dystopian future (with the only people guaranteed to see anything those who have paid top dollar for the front row).
This is why I was so pleased to get an invite to open air comedy at what I thought was a lawn bowls club on the Catford/ Sydenham border (that’s south London, England, fact fans).
With a blanket on the bowling green, a pint in a plastic cup, and surrounded by the maximum number of people allowed per friendship group (three plus me) the stage would have been set for a great night of comedy under the stars.
But the weather had other ideas (and the venue was a big social club, not a bowling club) so the fun was moved indoors (don’t worry it was all legit – yesterday was the first time this was allowed to happen as lockdown rules are eased further).
I haven’t quite decided if it is some kind of coincidence that the last comedy night I went to before lockdown was at the Poodle Club in Sydenham and the first comedy night in months was also a Poodle Club event – or maybe it is a sign of some kind of higher plan.
Back in March no-one knew what was going to happen, there was hand sanitiser at the door and at the bar but people rarely used it, the economy was doing okay and coronavirus was something mainly affecting other countries (though we were beginning to run out of toilet roll and pasta).
Fast forward five long months and the small club has had to move to the larger venue of Tudor Livesey Sport and Social Club to raise much needed funds to keep it going ( I think we did it), there is hand sanitiser and people are using it, the economy is falling apart and the socially distanced seating (it’s almost as if there is a rule which says you have to explain something is socially distanced so people don’t get scared) means there is a lot of legroom.
I’m not going to repeat any of the jokes from the comedians because a)stand up comedy is not written down comedy b)I cannot remember all the lines so would just ruin them.
Instead I’m just going to wholeheartedly recommend you put Kate Barron, Ada Campe, Rob Copland, Toussaint Douglas, Lucy Frederick, Archie Maddocks, David Mills, Juliet Meyers, Ben Norris, Andrew O’Neill, Carly Smallman, Arielle Souma and Josh Weller on your must watch list – when they come to a town near you.
There may come a time when pandemic isn’t such a rich source of material, when we are several years into the future and are battling COVID-25.
For now though the comedians showed they had been working hard during lockdown writing jokes about the difficulties with living in short-distance relationships stuck in the same home for hours on end, a dog with separation anxiety, and just trying to make sense of everything going on right now.
It was definitely a cure for the coronavirus blues and I look forward to my next comedic outing.
Stay safe for another week!