It's that time of year when hundreds of people gather in one place to watch a man dressed as a woman dressed as a jockey riding an ostrich.
Or at least that was my expert assessment as I sat down at the Marlowe on Tuesday to watch this year’s panto Sleeping Beauty.
Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates, as the charming Prince Michael, and ex-punk princess Toyah Willcox, playing the evil Carabosse, were given star billing.
But it was panto dame Ben Roddy who stole the show - and most of the laughs - in a brilliant take of Nurse Nellie.
His (or her?) somewhat uncomfortable affection for the dashing Prince provided a few belly laughs and he even managed to throw in three (yes, three!) Bonnie Tyler jokes.
He and jovial jester Jangles (Lloyd Hollett) raised the roof with a slapstick bathroom scene, but it was a sketch with 58 consecutive gags about old records that had me chuckling (He did a P Diddy?)
As always, there were some topical local jokes thrown in for good measure, with the Westgate Towers traffic trial and Herne Bay’s miserable Christmas lights getting honourable mentions.
And a gag about sending the cast to a “dark foreboding place where time has stood still for 100 years” was set up for an Isle of Sheppey punchline.
The set and costumes were impressive, but it was a stunning fire-breathing dragon which had everyone on the edge of their seats (it has to be seen to be believed!)
Surprisingly, it’s an hour before Gareth cracks the inevitable joke about his stuttering, but the Bradford boy proved he can still make girls swoon with a rendition of Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up.
Equally, the stunning Faye Brookes put a few smiles on the faces of dads with a faultless performance....in what was a near-faultless production.
It had laughs, frights, lots of water and plenty of audience interaction - oh, and did I mention the stunning Faye Brookes?
At the end of the day, I'm one of those miserable dads who probably wouldn’t step foot in a panto if I didn’t have kids.
But as we left the theatre my five-year-old daughter turned to me and said: “That was really fun!” – and I suppose that’s what really matters, isn’t it?
The panto runs until January 20. To book tickets call 01227 787787 or visit www.marlowetheatre.com.
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