A glorious night of piggin' fun

Barbara Nice's Countdown to Christmas

Old Joint Stock

****

IT is a toss up whether Barbara Nice needs care in the community or that is what she actually provides, but whichever, her unique brand of humour is infectious.

Janice Connolly's comic creation of the Stockport housewife, mother-of-five superstar has audiences hooked from the moment she walks out, grabbing a hapless face from the crowd to hold the door open while she collects all her bags.

Another woman is dragged up on stage to hold the fort while Barbara runs backstage to collect the glass of Pinot Grigio (if anyone is going to the bar) she has forgotten while a third is tasked with minding her T K Maxx bargain coat as she gets herself sorted out ready to have some “piggin' fun”.

Her humour is based not on jokes, the few she tells are corny in the extreme, or long rambling stories, but everyday things we all recognise and experience such as T K Maxx and designer clothes not one of us could see anyone ever paying full price for – but mark it up at £9.99 and we are in there whether we need it or like it or not.

Or giving the useful advice to the audience about one of her raffle prizes, a Fray Bentos Steak Pie, that no matter how long you have it in the oven the pastry will never cook.

And who else holds a free raffle with nine prizes ranging from a pair of angel wings, to a bottle of Dettol, HP Sauce to a huge bottle of unknown wine.

Then again who leads their entire audience of 100 or so out through the crowded OJS pub, singing carols, to play What Time is it Mr Wolf? in St Phillip's churchyard opposite the pub – and perhaps even more remarkable, the audience do it.

Her Christmas show is really a children's party for adults with daft games after she has the audience create four teams.

There is the mince pie eating contest, or the balloon tossing and even a game of dead celebrity statues. Easy to play at home that one. Decide on a track by an artist who has died in the past year and then play statues to it – now you don't get that at your posh, DVD pushing, alternative comedy superstar arena tours, do you sunshine?

The prize was meant to be a packet of Maltesers but they had gone missing so the winners – or everyone left when we got bored – were given the remnants of the Haribo sweets won by the mince pie eating victors, which had in turn gone to the balloon passing winners.

That did not include of course the Panetones handed out or the Wispa bar she gave out. Older readers will remember this was a chocolate creation that was dumped and then restored after a public outcry “if only we could do the same with the NHS,” said Barbara.

At times it looks like chaos but Connolly's creation knows exactly what she is doing and like a shepherd with her flock, she guides grown men and women into willingly playing silly games and, for the first time in many years, being children again. As she says, we have lost the ability to have fun, and Barbara Nice's mission is to bring it back.

You will not come out with loads of new jokes or rambling stories to tell friends over Christmas, you will not marvel at cutting wit or satire, but, as long as you still have a pulse, you will laugh, and laugh and laugh again and will head off home full of Christmas cheer and, yes, you will have had fun, and enjoyed every minute of it. To 22-12-12.

Roger Clarke  

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