It’s been a while… seven months in fact, since I’d set foot in a theatre, but it was so good to be back.

Coastal Comedy, the Dorset-based organisation which has for a good few years been promoting mid-tier stand-up comedy show, provided the first steps back into live entertainment.

With anti-socially-distanced seating arrangements, plenty of hand gel and masks to the fore, it felt perfectly safe to watch this triumvirate of funnymen.

First up was Bournemouth’s Gareth Richards, a long-established stage performer with numerous TV and radio appearances and writing credits in his portfolio – not to mention being a nominee in the Leicester Comedian of the Year Award 2007.

His opening gambit that, unlike top comedians, he wasn’t afraid to play to half-empty rooms, set the scene, as did his observation that it seemed that the masked audience were all watching him from behind walls.

His closing routine, a song about vasectomy, was almost worth the entrance money alone. – and he did throw in a couple of jokes.

Martin Wratten, an award-winning one-time ice cream man from Eastbourne who was handed the Leicester nominee accolade in 2018, took the Lighthouse middle section with his lugubrious persona.

He mostly played on his weight and former profession but did perk up a little when utilising the old fallback scenario of picking holes in classified ads in hyper-local publications.

Both Gareth and Martin seemed, for obvious reasons, a bit undercooked and lacking match fitness - but a series of moths fluttering about in the stage lights seemed to also symbolise the reopening of cultural life and things can only get better with time. Surely?

Headlining was Andy Askins, small of stature but large of talent, whose rise to top of the bill has been seemingly unencumbered by Leicester nominations.

His shtick seems to be that because he is diminutive and mild mannered the audience should be all the more surprised at the hilarious wickedness tumbling from his mouth. I don’t really buy into that – he is just laugh-out-loud funny and so dry that I almost imagined an oasis appearing stage left.

Askins, just one man and a guitar, mixes killer lines with beautifully crafted parodies of popular songs – everything from Simon & Garfunkel to The Sound Of Music – and went down a storm. It was just a shame his section was relatively short.

Inevitably, considering the circumstances, it was all rather like a low-key version of TV’s Live At The Apollo without anyone you’ve ever heard of, but that may change if Andy continues to up his game.

Put simply, it was just great to be out watching live entertainment and all credit to compere Adrienne Coles for actually getting the show up and running.

The next Coastal Comedy at Lighthouse is on Saturday November 14 and stars Troy Hawke, Nathan Edge and Jim Campbell.