Snooker's greatest showman Dennis Taylor has admitted he would have struggled to thrive in an empty arena - "I'd have ended up having a joke with the cameraman," quipped the Northern Ireland sporting legend.
As The Masters, one of the sport's most prestigious events, gets set for behind-closed-doors action at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes from this weekend after being switched from Alexandra Palace, 1985 world champion Taylor - who will be working as a pundit for the BBC at the tournament, which he won in a 9-8 thriller against fellow Ulster great and two-time Masters champion Alex Higgins back in 1987 - said it is vital that snooker and other sports keep on going as they bring an element of normality in uncertain times.
"I only won The Masters once but it is one of my absolute career highlights coming as it did against Alex in the final in which I had to win the last four frames," said Taylor, immortalised for his dramatic black ball victory over Steve Davis in that 1985 world final at the Crucible.
"It's important that people can come in from their walk or whatever, switch on the television and see things like snooker, darts, football - it gives at least a semblance of normality.
"It would be great to have the crowds back, but health has to be the No.1 priority. There is a secure bubble at Milton Keynes so it works well for snooker.
"I would have found it difficult to play in an empty arena. Interacting with the crowd was such a big part of my game. When I was starting out I used to play in exhibitions with the great Jackie Rea, and Jackie would have put entertaining the crowd above all else.
"I was one of the first players to introduce a stand-up routine into my exhibitions and lots of other players followed suit. I regularly played exhibitions in holiday camps and the jokes were a bigger part of the show than the snooker! So having a laugh and a joke with the crowd was just part of the game for me. So, yes, I would find it strange playing at an empty venue. I would end up having a joke with the television cameraman," laughed the 71-year-old from Coalisland.
"The players deserve enormous credit - the standard of snooker has been exceptional. Judd Trump has been amazing this season, Ronnie O'Sullivan is still right up there and our own Mark Allen has shown just what he is capable of.
"When you look at the opening round of The Masters, every match is like a final. Mark has a really tough start against John Higgins next Wednesday but if he can get through that there's every chance he can go all the way and win it just like he did in 2018. The fact he has won it before has to be a big help."
If Antrim cueman Allen triumphs against the great Scot, he faces a massive quarter-final in the £725,000 showpiece - Ronnie O'Sullivan or Ding Junhui.
"Ronnie and Ding in the first round - now there's a match that would grace any final," said Taylor.
"But Judd is the man they all have to beat. He has won six ranking events this season and only just missed out on the UK Championship as well in a late-night epic with Neil Robertson.
"Judd is good enough to dominate the game and take it forward. Only a handful of players have ever done that. Steve Davis in the '80s, Stephen Hendry in the '90s, then Ronnie. Judd has the ability to do it but it's more difficult now because there are so many good players. The standard in the top 32 is exceptional.
"It's a great time for young players on the way up. Although the standard is incredibly high, the opportunities are there to make a great career for yourself."
And Taylor can't wait to get to the tournament, which starts on Sunday and runs for eight days, after covering this summer's World Championship - postponed from its usual April/May slot due to Covid - from a television studio in London nearly 200 miles from Sheffield's legendary Crucible Theatre.
"At least we are all at the venue this time. The commentary team are separated by Perspex screens but that's the way it has to be," said Taylor, who said he feels for the modern-day players performing in these strange times.
"It affects some players more than others. The top, top players have all adapted very well. It maybe helps some of the other players, perhaps they don't feel as much pressure," he said.
"But in terms of The Masters, if it had gone ahead at Alexandra Palace, you are looking at a crowd of 2,000 people. Those people are reacting to good shots, giving the players a lift. I know that would certainly have helped me."
Now where's that cameraman?