My Comedy Club – The Back of Beyond

I’ve had many people ask me if the story in my book about the time I ran a comedy club is true. It is. And in retrospect it probably is quite an interesting story.

In the mid eighties, the Alternative Comedy Scene was really starting to grow. After being kicked out of Drama School – long story – I found a job working at a large pub complex called The Production Village in Cricklewood, North London. It was a lovely venue and it was where they shot some of the film Hellraiser.

They had a little theatre right at the back of complex. I decided that this was would a great venue to start a comedy club. The brewery was very supportive and left it to me to run it completely. I called the club: ‘The Back of Beyond’ and I visited comedy clubs around London and made an A, B and C list of comedians. Incredible to think about it now, but I remember booking incredible comedians like Paul Merton and Jo Brand for £30 each! Some comedian friends still remember playing that club, and I gave many their first ever paid gig!

back-of-beyond

I wasn’t a comedian myself at the time and the thought of actually going up on stage petrified me. I remember one night the MC was late and I had to go on and introduce the first act. I was visibly shaking. Fortunately, three minutes in to my mumbled mess, the MC turned up. I threw the microphone at him and ran to the bar.

However, here is the real embarrassing bit…

I used to ‘audition’ newer comedians. Honestly. I would sit in the audience, on my own, dressed in a suit (I felt this was important) and they would perform five minutes of their set for me. I would then decide if they were good enough for my club!

It gets worse….

I remember telling one young, hopeful that I couldn’t book him as he just wasn’t funny enough. I even suggested he found a different career altogether.

His name was Eddie Izzard.

I’d like to think his whole career has just been his way of proving me wrong.

Anyway, just thought I’d share that story which is an extract from my book HEARD THE ONE ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT? which you can buy here.

I should probably give Eddie Izzard a signed copy….

 

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About Bennett Arron

Stand-Up Comedian, Award-Winning Writer, Presenter, BAFTA-Shortlisted Director, Identity Theft Expert, ex Disco Dancer. "Genuinely original and funny" The Times "Hilarious... clever wit... razor sharp" The Standard "A Welsh Seinfeld" The Guardian
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