Last time I was in a car park in Brent, flashing my lights late at night… well, we’ll leave that there.
Thankfully last Friday there was no police involvement (just joking mum) as I took my place in what was Britain’s first live event in front of an audience since lockdown.
And what can more social-distanced than being in your own car to take in some live comedy?
I was at the Drive-In Club, dubbed London’s biggest live on-stage event this summer.
In front of my was a large stage – complete with telly favourite Dom Joly – and even bigger TV screen so we could see him at the back.
From kids show such as Sooty and Basil Brush, to DJ sets from Edith Bowman and Craig Charles and comedy from not only Dom but Ed Byrne and Jason Manford – 1950s American-style Drive-Ins are now the future.
But what’s it like to watch a top comic from your car…?
Getting there (and getting in)
After tuning the sat nav in we headed to the Brent Cross Shopping centre in North London.
We were admittedly a little later than planned, it took us around 10-15 minutes for them to search our cars – complete with sniffer dogs – before driving into the event.
Once inside you’re told to park up and tune your radio into a certain frequency to enjoy the show.
You can get out of your cars, with toilets and kiosks with food and drink all around you. However they’re happy to deliver to the car via the app (more of that later…)
It was all relatively pain-free, but be aware you can’t bring booze – you have to buy it there, although there is a varied selection/
Dom take to stage, but he’s not so Joly
Dom was on. We knew because a few cars in front started honking their horns.
Although we missed the start of the show as we tuned in it wasn’t the only technical error in the offing.
Five minutes into Dom’s show, two things became obvious…
a) He was being blown from pillar to post.
b) You couldn’t hear him loud and clear – but not any of his music. As it was a show based on a power point presentation, that was quite vital.
Dom was not happy (some would say, he wasn’t Jolly. But not me, that’s too easy) and left the stage for around 15 minutes as they fixed the problem.
The show must go on (…eventually)
Luckily a wind-swept Dom took to the stage a little bit after, the show began in earnest.
As the guinea pig for a brand new format, Dom was prepared.
However, I felt a little bit for him. With zero audience-interaction due to the fact we were all in cars he had no idea if his jokes were hitting the mark or falling flat.
However cars did drum up some enthusiasm by flashing their lights and beeping their horns at points of the show – which egged Dom on.
He powered through his show, based on his holiday experiences and while I don’t want to ruin it – and pretty good tale about an ex-schoolmate.
It was polished, but due to the distractions of the car and my phone (and the fact he couldn’t see me all the way at the back) my attention did wander a little.
After just under an hour he was done to more beeping and flashing to finish.
Most were done and moved out of the car park ready for the next show, comedian Daniel Sloss an hour or so later.
Despite ordering food on the app at the start of the show, 45 minutes later it still hadn’t arrived.
Fortunately I managed to get one of the stewards attention and it duly came soon after.
Admittedly after the show had finished, so we quickly munched some down and left the rest for the journey home.
It’s the perfect social-distancing event with everything contact free – and finally gets live entertainment back on the agenda in Covid-Britain.
But I felt distant from Dom Joly.
And a Drive-In may well work a treat things such as a classic films like Grease, Back to the Future or Pitch Perfect.
I personally didn’t think it works that well for comedy, because I think you need that interaction. Dom had none of it to work with, and it showed.
Tickets – Priced from £35 upwards per vehicle