Barnstormers Comedy Club – Live Review – Junction Goole
By Kirsty Reid, September 2021
At the height of the pandemic, the idea of sitting in a room with hundreds, even dozens, of strangers was so out of the question that I didn’t think I’d ever miss it.
But, after 18 months of mostly being a hermit (and with my TV broken), I decided to take the plunge with a night out at my local comedy club, Barnstormers. And I’m so glad I did.
With capacity to seat about 200 people (less with social distancing measures in place), my visit to Goole’s arts centre, Junction, was perhaps more of a toe-dipping than a full-on plunge, but it was a welcomed return to normality nonetheless.
Originating in East Sussex, Barnstormers Comedy have been presenting stand-up shows since 2001. Notable acts to grace the Barnstormers stage over the years include Sarah Millican, Andy Parsons, Lucy Porter and Rob Rouse to name a few.
To be among the crowd for Barnstormers first night back was both strange and exciting. It had been two years since I’d last stepped foot in Junction, how different would things be post-Covid? Turns out, not that different at all.
While waiting for doors to open, a throng of excited ticket-holders merrily supped drinks in the Junction’s café-turned-bar, which offered a decent selection of soft beverages, wine and beer. After choosing our tipples, my dad and I headed through to the main auditorium.
Social distancing measures meant parties were sat in their ‘bubbles’, with plenty of space between each group. Despite this, circular tables and dimmed lighting created a cosy, intimate setting.
Keen to avoid ritual humiliation, Dad and I opted for a ‘safe spot’ at the back of the room and braced ourselves for an evening of anecdotes.
A master of audience interaction and comedy improvisation, MC Kevin Precious was on hand to oversee proceedings and introduce the three performers that followed.
Unsurprisingly, those at the front were prime targets for the affable stand-up, with the former teacher singling out a deputy head who gave just as much banter back. A class act, Precious worked wonders warming up the crowd, which seemed quite reserved initially.
Quizzing Precious after the show on how it feels to be back performing after so long. He said: ‘It feels good. I’ve done a couple of gigs already so starting to get a feel for things again. It takes a few outings before one can regard oneself as fully “match-fit”.’ From what I saw, I think it’s safe to say he’s on top form.
Next up was Mike Wilkinson – a comedian, writer and poultry farmer (yes, really). Having supported the likes of Peter Kay, Johnny Vegas and Ross Noble, as well as headlining clubs all over the country, the sharply dressed funnyman won over the crowd with his down-to-earth Northern charm. With observational gags based on his own life experiences – from the reality of divorce to teaching, and his experience with posh people – his relatable anecdotes made him all the more likeable.
Surreal word play was in store when Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Noel James took to the stage. After making the trip from Wales to Yorkshire, motormouth James brought the belly laughs. ‘I come from a long line of comedians. You can still see them outside the Job Centre,’ he quipped. His set featured a string of bizarre one-liners, clever wordplay and a frog impersonation. Rounding off with a rather impressive Robert de Niro impression, James was very much a mixed bag.
“Flow of punch-lines”
The highlight of the evening, for me, was Steve Harris. His sharp observations and upbeat conversational-style narrative featured some of the best jokes of the evening. From social distancing in supermarkets to how to ‘cure’ Tourette’s, Harris’s subject matter was varied, yet relatable. A continuous flow of punch-lines that took the audience from one topic to the next. The perfect act to round of the evening.
Things might be different post-Covid, but the comedy club’s atmosphere certainly hasn’t suffered as a result. ‘It seemed pretty much business as usual,’ MC Precious told me, ‘but we’re talking both a lovely crowd and a lovely venue.’ He’s not wrong about that.
It might have been 18 months since my last ‘proper’ social outing, but just as these acts were happy to be back on stage, bringing the banter. I was happy to be back out in the world, laughing along with them.
Check out their website for the next gig: barnstormerscomedy.com