Toby Hadoke

Toby Hadoke

Stand-up, and promoter of Manchester's XS Malarkey club, for which he won the Chortle Award for best offstage contribution in 2008.

He was nominated for best compere in the 2012 Chortle Awards.

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Comic's fury at venue closure

Anger over licensing hearing

Stand-up Toby Hadoke has lashed out at the licensing panel that closed the Manchester home of his popular XS Malarkey comedy night.

He accused councillors of refusing to hear evidence on behalf of the Remedy bar, and simply bowing to police request that the venue be shut.

A hearing last week temporarily closed the bar for 28 days following a fight outside on October 1. Its fate will be determined at another hearing on November 4, but venue bosses fear that it will lose its 3am licence and be forced to go out of business.

But Hadoke was furious at the way the initial hearing was handled.

He told Chortle: ‘This is a prime example of those charged with doing a job involving serving the community doing precisely the opposite. [The panel] seem much keener on the arbitrary wielding of power than any wider concerns for the vicinity they represent.

‘At the farrago of a “hearing” the woman in charge ignored the contents of any representation on the venue's behalf – some from established comedians with a very high profile attesting to the safe atmosphere at XS Malarkey – instead preferring to concentrate on a grammatical error she spotted!’

The venue, in the student-dominated Fallowfield area of the city, will be closed for the Manchester Comedy Festival. The regular Tuesday night gig has temporarily moved across the road to a pub called the Queen Of Hearts, all its festival shows except for Robin Ince on the 21st have been cancelled.

Hadoke, who set up the club in 1997, said: ‘The comedy festival – an initiative begun in conjunction with, guess who, the council – was the perfect opportunity to spread the unthreatening atmosphere of goodwill from Tuesday through to other, inevitably more potentially rowdy, weekend nights. That is a pub trying to ensure it only encourages the less unsavoury elements of Manchester nightlife.

‘Instead, what the council and police have done is not taken into account a night lauded for all it has done for the area, and for comedy in general. Indeed they've held the venue responsible for altercations, some of which took place on either a Monday night or at 3.15am, when the pub was closed and no staff were in the venue.

‘Clearly Fallowfield will now be a safer place now these petty pen pushers have put a venue out of business and jeopardised one of the safest nights in the area. It's so much easier to be seen to be doing something like this than do any, say, actual policing. That's clearly the job of slumbering pub managers asleep at home.’

‘I've challenged the woman who made the decision to discuss the matter with me and some of the people who she represents (ie. the many supporters of the night). I promise not to make any grammatical errors.’

The council refused to comment on Hadoke’s allegations, saying it was a matter for the police – even though it was a council licensing committee that ruled in favour of the police.

Remedy’s manager Glen Lumsden told Chortle that the panel even refused to watch CCTV footage of the October 1 incident.

He added: ‘We’re stopping trouble-makers at the door. It’s up to the police to keep the streets safe, not us.

‘The panel could have granted us a temporary licence, just to allow us to be open for comedy during the festival, with no late closing, but they wouldn’t.’

He said the next hearing was likely to be the final nail in the coffin for Remedy, as it would be unlikely to retain its 3am licence, and it makes most of its money late at night.

On closing the pub, Greater Manchester Police Chief Inspector John Taylor said: ‘We simply cannot tolerate incidents of violent disorder that puts people’s safety in jeopardy.’

Police said there had been 25 incidents at the venue this year, although Lumsden said it was 17, most of which were trivial and only four of which were not,

Comedians who began their careers at XS Malarkey include Jason Manford, Alan Carr, and Justin Moorhouse. It has been named best club in the north at the Chortle awards on four occasions – a title it currently holds.

Andrew O'Neil's show scheduled for XS on the 23rd has been moved to theSound Control venue.

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Published: 15 Oct 2010

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