Stand-up nights recorded at the Comedy Store are to be screened in cinemas.
Four shows taped ‘as live’ from the celebrated London venue will hit screens from February, released in fortnightly intervals.
However, Sony Digital Cinema, which is making the films has not yet disclosed which cinemas will be screening the shows.
The films will be called The Comedy Store: Raw and Uncut, and the first will be released on February 22.
While anything that finds a new audience for stand-up has to be welcomed, it’s hard to imagine quite who would the new Comedy Store venture is aimed at; just who would pay to see the club’s weekend line-up on the big screen?
It’s not an entirely unprecedented move. In 2007, Ross Noble simulcast his Noblism tour into Vue Cinemas. But there, at least, was a sense of occasion as well as a sense of novelty – a chance to see a pretty famous comedian live, as it was happening there and then in the Liverpool Empire – and Noble performed to those watching via satellite as much as he did to those in the auditorium.
But the Comedy Store screenings will be pre-recorded.... just like the Comedy Store programmes you can late at night on Comedy Central, in the comfort of your own home. And the circuit names will surely not have the pulling power of Ross Noble. It will presumably be the Store’s hard-won brand name that the cinema bosses are relying upon to draw the punters.
Yet we assume (given the locations of the screenings have not yet been divulged) that comics of similar standing will be available, in the flesh, in comedy clubs close to the cinemas. But there – and for not much more than the price of a cinema ticket – you get the buzz and the atmosphere of a live gig, not a cinematic experience.
Perhaps the thinking is that lots of people like stand-up, but lack the wherewithal to figure out there are clubs offering such experiences near them. Clubs who will presumably more than a touch peeved at the Store muscling in on their territory, without the overheads of actually running a club.
The continuing success of Live At The Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Roadshow show there’s an appetite fort stand-up on screen - but these are endlessly repeated, and again available free and without hassle at homes. Will Ian Stone and Jeff Innocent be able to compete with the likes of Skyfall or Twilight? Unlikely, but at least comedy continues to innovate in the media in which it is delivered to fans, as much as in the artform itself.