GETTING a theatre full of people to go bowling would not strike most people as the easiest task.
But for one Australian comedian it was easier than it seemed.
Adam Hills, who performed at the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple last night, had organised for the whole of the audience to go to bowling after his show, much to their delight.
Despite some people initially thinking it was a joke, after he had finished hundreds of them descended on Lets Go! bowling centre in Pottington, all paid for by Adam, who has achieved international acclaim and appeared on shows like Mock the Week and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
According to owner Wendy Pullen it was the busiest Monday night they had ever seen with people pouring in from around 10pm.
Adam said it is something he had thought about doing following a previous show in Wrexham about four weeks earlier.
“We got to the show early, drove in and found a ten pin bowling alley,” he said. “From then if I got to a town early I would go bowling.
He said the idea began to come together after he was being interviewed on The Voice radio station and presenter Paul Hopper said he could probably organise something.
“I was kind of thinking well I only have to go to Exeter the next day, and by this point I had done 70 shows and wanted to do something different,” said Adam.
“I have always loved the idea of doing something for the audience.”
Adam said he rang Lets Go! owner, Wendy Pullen, to get everything sorted and was surprised by her price offer.
“I had to haggle her up because I didn’t think she was charging enough.”
Adam said he had planned to tell the audience right at the end of the show about taking them bowling.
“I was going to wait until the end but I was like a kid, I couldn’t contain it,” he added. “I thought there might be people who had plans to go home.”
Adam said nobody was asked to pay, but just to make a donation to charity in aid of his Movember efforts.
“I had to keep saying this is not a joke and then gradually they all realised it was the truth,” he said. “This is what I had hoped for, but never expected.”
“I am considering doing this after every show. To be honest it is kind of worth it.”
Adam said he has been to Barnstaple a few times before and has done a play previously up in Edinburgh which had links to Devon and even mentioned Bideford.
“There is something special about this place,” he added.
Much of the audience struggled to believe Adam’s offer was genuine at first, but then they realised he was being serious.
Camille Pateman, from Barnstaple, said: “There are only so many times you can mention it before people start thinking he is being serious. It is the busiest I have seen this place since it opened.”
Tina and Richard Place, from Newport, had been to see Adam for the first time last night.
They said the show was “superb” and that Adam even managed to fit in material about North Devon.
“He is a very funny man,” said Tina. “We have seen a lot of comedy and he was up there with the best.”
“He really gave the impression he was enjoying the show,” said Richard. “And he made a joke about Woolfardisworthy.”
Richard said he knew Adam was being serious about his offer to take the audience bowling because he knew the name of the bowling centre in Pottington.
“He said he likes to bowl before his show,” said Tina. “When he offered we thought we would come down, why not.”
“My battery has died so I haven’t even had chance to ring the babysitter yet,” added Richard.
Jane Casey, from Braunton, said she did not believe Adam’s offer of bowling was genuine at first.
“But it is for charity so we thought we’d come down,” she said. “It is a good end to a good night.”
Josh Baldwin who saw the show with wife Charlie, both from Braunton, said: “It was really good. He seemed quite convincing about the bowling so we thought we’d come down and it is giving money for charity.”
Hannah Young, from Roundswell, said the show was “amazing,” adding she watched him on TV every week.
“So it was amazing for him to come to Barnstaple,” she added, “and the bowling has made it.
“We were only expecting a couple of people to go, nothing like this.”
Ann Hart, from Exeter, said she was glad she booked up to come and see the Barnstaple show before she knew Adamwas in Exeter because else she would not have got the extra perk of bowling afterwards.
“The best thing is that we came here because the people in Exeter are going to miss this,” she said.
“I didn’t think he was joking when he offered the bowling,” she said. “He came across like that was exactly what he meant.”
A group of four who came to see the show from Woolsery were more than appreciative of Adam’s Woolfardisworthy joke.
Claire Taskiss, Chris Harding, Joe Ward and Chris Walter said there was a good reaction from the crowd when the joke was made.
“It was great,” said Claire. “Woolsery doesn’t get much publicity.”
Joe added: “We thought we’d come down even if he was joking, just in case.”
To make a donation in aid of Adam's Movember efforts, which aims to promote prostate cancer awareness, visit http://uk.movember.com/mospace/7066077