UNIVERSITY of York mathematics graduate, Queen superfan and confessional comedian Chris Booker is building momentum with his open-mic comedy nights at Angel On The Green, in Bishopthorpe Road, York.

Next up will be a bill of Adam Al Janabi, Philip Stanley, Adam Tumber, Charlie Maurer, Andrew Marsh and Rich Mitchell on Wednesday night, hosted by Chris, the 23-year-old master of ceremonies and promoter, from 9pm with free admission.

“We began in March, staging it monthly, and we’ve had 13 nights so far,” he says. “The idea initially was just to be monthly, but it almost immediately became every three weeks, then every fortnight, which shows the demand for it.”

Comedy nights come and go in York, where Toby Clouston-Jones’s long-running Hyena Lounge, for example, has left town, but Al Greaves’ Burning Duck Comedy Club at The Crescent and The Basement and Damion Larkin’s Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club at York Barbican are thriving; Tom Taylor’s Sitting Room Comedy has upcoming shows at The Winning Post and Martin Witts’ Great Yorkshire Fringe rolls out the green lawn each summer in Parliament Street.

Open-mic nights play their part in the city’s nightlife too, but more often their emphasis is on musicians and spoken-word performers, hence Chris’s desire to establish Comedy@Angel on the Green in Bishy Road.

“I came to York to study maths at university, but I always wanted to do stand-up comedy,” says Chris, who grew up in Bridlington. “I’d done one comedy thing at school, but I didn’t do it again until I was 19, at the Golden Ball, the community pub in York, where there’s an open-mic night once a week, on Mondays, which features mainly musicians.

“The first night I did had one other comedian, but then I never saw another comedian there, apart from me, in a year!”

Chris had graduated in 2016 and initially returned home to Bridlington, “but I kept coming back to York to do stand-up because I thought, ‘now is the moment to invest time in living the dream’, and it’s worked out well. It’s amazing to be able to do this.”

York Press:

Burning Duck Comedy Club promoter and comedian Al Greaves

Pete Kilbane, former manager at the Golden Ball, asked Chris if he thought a comedy night would work at the Angel. “I said, yes, please! I was good enough as an act that I could put together something relatively good, but not yet well known, so I had the time to do it,” he says.

How did he first assemble a bill? “I’d been doing open-mic nights for two years, so I knew people, and spoke to Al Greaves at the Burning Duck, and The Verve in Merrion Street in Leeds, a little wine bar with an open-mic in the cellar,” says Chris.

“I handed out flyers and as soon as comedians heard about the new night, they were getting in touch each day. I needed eight comedians for the first one, and that was that, I had the eight ten-minute slots filled!”

Chris now hosts an average of six acts per show, starting at 9pm in the “end” room, where the cake stall is removed, a mic stand put in that corner, extra chairs are added and, voila, a cabaret vibe is created. “The first time I ever MC’d a show was the first one here and I didn’t really know what I was doing, but now it’s so much fun, just getting up and talking, and always doing a Queen update section on my favourite band,” he says.

Chris put on the Free Fringe programme at Grape Lane bar1331 with accordion-playing street musician Ben Crosthwaite at this summer’s Great Yorkshire Fringe and has decided to concentrate fully on his comedy career, now settled in York with his girlfriend Jordan.

“I’m starting up a regular comedy night at The Ackhorne (in St Martin’s Lane) when the management changes, from November, on a Wednesday mostly, but not the same Wednesday every month, and I’ll be running a ticketed monthly comedy night at 1331, possibly on the third Thursday of each month, but the full details are yet to be confirmed.”

York Press:

"I believe that essentially comedy is only funny if you're the underdog, shouting at things that are bigger than you are," says Chris Booker

Chris Booker's take on comedy and his role as a comedian

"I struggle to see a link between mathematics and comedy. Maths was a big part of my life and stlll is, but maths is so logical and comedy is so illogical. You can't crack a joke that's guaranteed to work every time, but in maths, a formula works each time," he says.

"Comedy is a different part of me; maybe in my writing there's a bit of an overlap, but in truth, doing comedy was just a desperate need for attention, whereas doing maths requires no attention.

"My main rule in my comedy is that I don't like to be divisive; that's why I avoid politics.

"I'd always worry, when writing, oh, I hope no-one will be upset by this. So, instead, basically the butt of my jokes is invariably me, like in my experimental one-hour show called I'm Actually Fine, which is about pulling the rug from under myself.

"I believe that essentially comedy is only funny if you're the underdog, shouting at things that are bigger than you are, and you should never shout down at the things that are smaller than you."

Coming next at Comedy@Angel on the Green 

On October 10, Chris Booker will present a 9pm bill of Joshua Crosse; Harriet Lucy; Julian Lee; Chris Jones; Dave Walker; Al Greaves and Louise Young. Admission is free.

Keep an eye on Booker's bookings at Comedy@Angelonthe.Green 

Doing fine

Chris Booker's next performance of I'm Actually Fine will be at 1331, Grape Lane, York, in his comedy evening on October 18 from 7pm. This will be a ticketed event with furter details to follow.