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Having a bellyful of laughs at Hyena Lounge Comedy Club
THE Hyena soon will be having an even bigger laugh in the Basement bar at City Screen, York. From June 9, promoter Toby Clouston-Jones is to host a second night of Hyena Lounge Comedy Club japes, adding Saturdays to the long-established Sunday bills.
“Elle Nelson [Honeytone Cody’s lead singer]is now running the Basement programme, and we had an idea together to move it away from noisy pop bands to make it more of a performance space, with more poetry, acoustic nights, more interesting bands, burlesque shows and more Hyena Lounge comedy,” says Toby.
He will distinguish between the Saturday and Sunday formats. “We’re introducing a fresh comedy experience on Saturday nights with three acts and a compere, while Sundays will continue with headline tour shows, Edinburgh Fringe previews and special warm-ups, like we’ve done before with Russell Howard, Rhod Gilbert and Sarah Millican.
“There’ll be a definitely different feel on Saturdays, a fun feel with bills like you get at the Comedy Store, aimed at the City Screen regular crowd but also at group celebrations and polite stag or hen parties!”
Sunday shows will continue to be weekly, whereas Toby envisages Saturday triple bills being presented two out of every three weekends.
“Already Saturday nights are a huge success in Leeds, with the Hi-Fi and Jongleurs shows, Highlight at Bar Risa and Big Night Out at Tiger Tiger,” he says.
“There can be as many as 1,000 comedy tickets sold there on a Saturday, while Sheffield has The Last Laugh at the City Hall every Friday and Saturday and The Stand runs shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow, where they’ve just opened a new 350-capacity comedy venue.”
Toby is passionate in his promotion of grassroots comedy, rejecting the trend towards big-name acts playing cavernous arenas. “I just find that comedy doesn’t work anywhere with breezeblocks; for some reason they soak up the laughter, whereas small theatres are beautiful for it and a club is perfect,” he says.
“I think comedy was great when people had to seek it out, almost like a private members’ club, but now it’s in your face and there’s so much of it on the television.”
Instead, he places great store in the old-school close-up comedy on offer at the Hyena Lounge, where he will operate a rotating pool of eight comperes on Saturdays and will play “swaps” with the Hi-Fi nights in Leeds.
“Our headliner at City Screen on our first night, Justin Moorhouse, will be the opening Hi-Fi act that night and the opener in York will be the headliner in Leeds. What it means is that all four acts on Saturdays will be headline quality.”
Doors will open at 7pm for the 8pm to 10.20pm bills on Saturdays, when the admission price will be £12. “The same sort of show would be £18 in Leeds,” says Toby.
“I think this is the first time there’s been a Saturday night comedy club in York and we hope to get a good mix of locals and York visitors, so we’re marketing it to both,” says Toby.
“The hope is that there’ll be some big names dropping in, and in a 100-seater that will make it fun and intimate.”
Aussie Mark Little is among those being lined up for a Saturday slot, and he is also on Toby’s list for 2012 Edinburgh previews, along with Lucy Porter, Pete Forman and Josh Widdicombe.
• JUSTIN Moorhouse has another Hyena Lounge engagement before his June 9 show.
This Sunday, he joins Dan Nightingale in an Easter Holiday Special. Doors open at 7pm for the 7.30pm start; box office, 0871 902 5726 or hyenalounge.com