WE have all heard of 'live stream' shows during lockdown, but a group of Oxford comedians are going one step further by holding an actual live gig... on a stream.

Tonight (Thursday), comedy lovers will set sail on a fleet of punts to enjoy an evening of laughter from a floating stage, moored in the River Cherwell.

And organisers promise there will be plenty of jokes to float everyone’s boat.

The event has been organised by the city’s Jericho Comedy club, which, despite the closure of comedy venues, has kept the fun going throughout the lockdown. Starting with online gigs, they have also staged drive-in events at Oxford's TOAD gin distillery and Milletts Farm garden centre in Frilford. And now they are going one step further with a ‘sink or swim’ performance on the river.

An assortment of comics will play to ‘punters’ afloat off The Cherwell Boathouse in North Oxford, with comedians and audience all on the water to maintain social distancing.

The club's Harry Househam says: “Not to be confused with a virtual ‘live stream’ comedy show, this event is a live comedy show taking place on a stream."

The only hazard is surely of laughing too hard and capsizing – or of comedians torpedoing hecklers.

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Harry adds: “It has really been a challenge performing during the pandemic, but as soon as we worked out the safest ways to put on shows we started running drive-ins, moving on to open air shows, and now we can’t wait to perform from a river.

“It has been a joy to get comedians working safely and in front of audiences in much need of a laugh in these uncertain times.”

Audience members get a boat for each household, with spare punts used as walkways and natural barriers for social distancing. There will also be tables on dry land for landlubbers without their sea legs.

“It has been heavily suggested we should get hecklers to walk the plank, and if comedians aren’t having a good set it really is a case of sink or swim,” says Harry.

“Punters can expect an excellent award-winning line-up of comedians to be enjoyed in the atmospheric setting of boats tethered along the River Cherwell as the sun sets. This is maybe the most summery and incredibly ‘Oxford’ way to enjoy an evening of open air comedy.”

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The event dubbed ‘live stream’ or ‘punting comedy’ will be the only floating comedy club in the UK this summer. The line-up is being kept secret, but a smattering of big names can be expected.

Harry says: "We've fostered a really loyal audience over the last five years by not announcing the line up. People know they'll have a good time regardless of who is on the show. We've built our reputation on that fact, the only way to know who is on is to turn up."

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The Cherwell boathouse is one of a handful of locations in Oxford that offers punting, the city’s traditional leisure activity so admired by outsiders it has also been shamelessly copied by boaters in Cambridge. And Venice. Possibly.

Jericho Comedy is an award-winning comedy club, named one of the country’s top six by Chortle for the past two years.

It has been featured on BBC Radio Xtra’s The Circuit, showcasing the best independent comedy venues, and is behind the Oxfordshire Mind Comedy gala at the Oxford Playhouse which has brought the likes of Ed Gamble, Olga Koch and Hal Cruttenden to the city.

The show starts at 7.30pm. Book at jerichocomedy.com