A LARGS comedienne has backed virtual laughter to continue long after the pandemic due to the rise in popularity of online gigs.

Natalie Sweeney, who is a regular performer in the town, believes virtual comedy shows are here to stay, despite the easing of restrictions.

She says a surge in demand for online shows could change the face of performance forever locally and on a wider scale.

Natalie explained: “The virtual gigs have picked up a lot in the last few months as people begin to understand and appreciate them more.

“Some quite well known comedians have been getting involved. People don't need to leave their home, performers or the audience, and it is all quite simple.

“However there was one where I went to a studio in Glasgow and I performed onstage with a microphone.

“That was brilliant as it was like a real gig streamed into people’s houses. We've had to do something because there is still so much uncertainty around gigs and performing in front of crowds moving forward."

Natalie believes that heading online for comedy has allowed comics to reach a wider audience.

She explained: “I think that online gigs will definitely continue, but I think it’s also clear that people want to get back out and experience things away from their own homes.

“With the online element, we can reach people we wouldn’t otherwise, such as fans in America and other places around the world.

“Also there are people that may not feel safe going to comedy clubs due to the lack of space and online gigs allow them to watch from the safety of their own home.”

Natalie says there are some challenges with performing to an online audience and admits it may be tough getting back in front of real people later this year.

She said: “A lot of the time you’ll hear the audience laughing through Zoom but the sound is often delayed, which is strange.

“Sometimes you don’t see or hear the audience at all, so you need to get really used to being confident in yourself and your performance.

“A big part of comedy is that instant feedback from the audience. You just can't replicate that with online shows.

“I’ve got so used to doing a monologue to a brick wall that it could be a shock when I go back to being heckled in a comedy club!”