Torquay Comedy Club’s cheesy jokes raise a smile despite pandemic

It's a family affair for the Torquay Comedy Club with Ben Milden, fiancée Sally Egan and daughters,

It's a family affair for the Torquay Comedy Club with Ben Milden, fiancée Sally Egan and daughters, Ava-mae (left) and Millie (right) - Credit: Archant

The Torquay Comedy Club wasn't going to let the pandemic wreck their plans to bring a smile to people's faces

The Torquay Comedy Club has only been around since the start of 2018 but has gone from hosting 35 people at its first show in the Riviera Hotel's sports bar to regular sold out 180-seat shows with TV name comedians as well as large Grand Shows with big name acts including Jason Manford and Sean Lock.

Founder Ben Milden had a passion for comedy and a desire to get more of the art form to Torquay.

He says: I had been performing stand-up comedy for several years and have experienced first-hand the difference between a large touring theatre show and a regular local comedy club with the latter being much more personal, immersive, and atmospheric.

'There was a couple of attempts at bringing comedy clubs to Torquay but none seemed to stick or recreate that genuine comedy club feel. When the last one left we saw our opportunity and decided to give it everything we had.'

Ben says he owes a big thank you to his loyal supporters for getting behind him. In just over two years since their first show they have brought many TV name comedians to Torquay including, Larry Dean, Ivo Graham, Laura Lexx, Dane Baptiste, Harriett Kemsley, Bobby Mair, Tanyalee-Davis and Stuart Goldsmith.

He reveals: 'With our two Grand Shows selling incredibly fast to see Jason Manford and Sean Lock we were also planning to increase the regularity of our shows due to popular demand. Unfortunately, Covid-19 put a stop to that and it's been well over 100 days since we've been able to put on a normal show.'

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But he added: 'When lock down was announced we made a promise to our loyal following that we would continue to pursue our mission in supplying top class comedy to keep spirits up. This has been done in many forms including us hosting a couple of live streamed online shows of which we donated the profits to both Torbay Hospital and our nominated charity for 2020 Feed A Child Torbay.

'We also fine-tuned our YouTube channel to now have over 30 hours of completely free comedy to watch however and whenever anyone wants, featuring clips and sets from our previous shows as well as complete tour show recordings provided by some big names in comedy such as Jimmy Carr, Katherine Ryan and Rhod Gilbert to name a few.'

The club's latest venture to raise morale was been by hosting the Devon Dad Joke Championship. They are asking any Devon resident over the age of 18 to submit their favourite 'Dad Jokes' to us at their website to be in the running to win prizes thanks to partnerships with Bays Brewery, Brixham Gin and Finley Browns Café.

Ben said: 'The competition came about with myself being a father of two children aged two and six. My eldest daughter, Ava, already rolls her eyes at some of the cringe worthy dad jokes I bore her with. A dad joke can be defined as a joke so bad it's good or just a cheesy pun. We think there is something quite unifying about dad jokes as most people seem to have memories of their dads repeating the same three or four jokes whenever they got a chance.'

Here's a couple of our favourite entries so far:

'I know a lot of people find self-isolation hard, but I can honestly say …. I've never felt more at home!'

'Did you hear about the magical tractor? It went down a lane and turned into a field!'

Ben says: 'I'm really glad that although coronavirus has put a stop to us hosting our shows it hasn't put a stop to us completing our mission and we're still able to bring laughter and joy to people when they need it the most.'