Stand up comedy has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and comedians themselves are becoming ever popular.
The success of Michael McIntyre and his own television show, ‘Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow’, being regulars on panel shows, and their performances being easily televised, such as ‘Peter Kay’s Live at the Bolton Albert Halls’ – the biggest selling stand up DVD in British history – which was shown on Channel 4 again last Thursday, are making comedians into household names. You can even study stand up comedy as a module at the University of Kent!
But it is about more now than just sitting on a stool, smoking cigarettes and bad language, Bill Bailey doesn’t enjoy swearing in his shows and rarely does it, and John Bishop’s charm can light up a room. And if they’re not on screen themselves, then they’re working behind the scenes. Richard Herring has written with ex-York University student Dan Atkinson for ‘Russell Howard’s Good News’ and worked on his own podcasts, while Stewart Lee famously co-wrote ‘Jerry Springer: The Opera”.
For live comedy shows, York is a popular destination for comedians, with venues such as the Grand Opera House and the Theatre Royal, that have recently hosted some top names such as Sarah Millican and Simon Amstell, and the Hyena Lounge Comedy Club held in the Basement at City Screen Cinema on Sundays, where you can catch many up and coming professional acts.
The Hyena Lounge started out as The Other Side, founded by Dan Atkinson in 2001, and sold in 2006 where it later became the Hyena Lounge Comedy Club. June and July will be extremely popular for the venue as it hosts some Edinburgh Preview Shows, starting on 10 June with Josh Widdicombe, who was hilarious as the support act for Stephen Merchant when he came to York last year. It is also starting ‘Saturday Night Live’ from 9 June, with a compare and three acts, one of which will be Ray Peacock on the first night, who I highly recommend after having had the pleasure of seeing him when he was the warm up guy for the filming of Red Dwarf X earlier this year.
For new names, Can’t Sing, Can’t Dance, Don’t Care is a comedy night formed in 2009 by a group of comics, and held at The Gillygate on alternate Wednesday’s, where you can even give it a go yourself, as somebody did when I last went, and was very well received by a welcoming and friendly audience. So whether you’re after watching a professional comedian, or someone trying it out for the first time, there’s a comedy venue in York for you.