Barnstormers Comedy celebrates its 15th anniversary this year – a proud record of delivering the laughs.
This weekend sees dates at two of the venture’s favourite venues, Shoreham’s Ropetackle this Saturday (January 16) and Horsham’s Capitol on Sunday (January 17).
Horsham has been a Barnstomers venue for 11 years, Shoreham for seven.
Kevin Precious, who set up Barmstormers with colleague Stephen Newberry, is delighted with the way it has all panned out.
“I suppose on a day-to-day basis you are just riding the wave, but when you step back, I am pleased with the way it has gone particularly in places like Shoreham and Horsham.
“I had just come out of university as a mature student, living in the Brighton area, and I was about to start off as an RE teacher. But I wanted to keep up the comedy I had been doing part time. I just had an inkling towards Seaford of all places because my mother had lived there during the war. It seemed a good reason to go there and see if there was anything happening. This was in 2001.
“Stephen (who has since amicably gone his separate way) was the contact there. He seemed to have his finger in the local theatrical hub. I went and said I wanted to do some gigs in the area that I could combine with a full-time job. We started to gig in Seaford. That became a success, and we started looking for other venues.
“We were moving towards arts centre. The first one was Horsham in 2004.
“We have now got seven or eight venues. Some come and go but there are eight regular ones at the moment. In Sussex there is Shoreham and Horsham and we occasionally do Fishers Farm.
“We have got one in Bromsgrove in the west Midlands, two in Bedfordshire, one in Salisbury and one in Winchester. We are always looking for more but it takes a while to establish a comedy gig. It is not something you can just do straightaway.
“You have got to put the effort in first. We do look for other stuff but there is definitely work involved first. But really, I just love comedy. That’s why we started it. Secondly, it means that I get to see good acts and I get to perform myself.
“That’s good from the compering point of view. I do a lot of the compering which is great.
“For compering, you have got to be spontaneous but it also means I am able to try out new ideas that I can then take to other places. The original impetus was that I was wanting to reassimilate into society having been a musician previously and I was starting the job. I taught full time for four years.
“I don’t compere them all. Salisbury, I am hardly there at all. But there are certain ones I regularly do because you get to know the locals. You build up a rapport and you are on first-name terms. The gigs run from September to June. We don’t do the summer months because people have got other priorities but they are usually one a month.”
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