In pictures: 30 years of the Frog and Bucket | Manchester comedy club celebrates its birthday tonight

In pictures: 30 years of the Frog and Bucket

Manchester comedy club celebrates its birthday tonight

Manchester Frog and Bucket comedy club is celebrating its 30th birthday tonight.

One of the longest running comedy nights  outside of London, the club opened in 1994 in a room above the now demolished Britannia pub in Newton Street in the city’s Northern Quarter, with a capacity of 60 people.

Two years later the club moved to its current premises at the end of Oldham Street, into a building that was formerly a bank– and  a Yates’s Wine Lodge.

A flyer from 1999

Originally founded by David Perkin, the club played host to many early gigs from the likes of Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas  when they were first starting out.

Johnny Vegas at the Frog

Vegas on stage

Vegas on stage

Vegas on stage

Peter Kay at the Frog

 In his memoirs Saturday Night Peter, Kay said: ‘The place used to be roasting all the time. I’m sure Dave Perkin used to turn the heating up full to sell more drink.’

Kay and Perkin and mum

Dave Perkin – and his mum - with Peter Kay

Kay outside the Frog's dressing room

Kay outside the Frog's dressing room

Adopted Mancunian John Bishop performed his first ever gig at the venue, wandering in to the open mic night after separating from his wife and looking for something to do. He has said: ‘Without the Frog and Bucket, I would not be a professional comedian today. It was a great place for me when I started out and remains just as good.'

Whitehall at the Frog

Jack Whitehall, above, honed his early stand-up routines while he was a student at the university, while other comedians on the bill in their early days included Dave Gorman. Sarah Millican (below), Chirs Ramsey (also below), Lucy Porter, Ross Noble and Lee Mack.

Millican at the Frong
Ramsey at the Frog

Steve Coogan, below, dropped in to do warm-up shows before reprising his characters Paul and Pauline Calf for the 2003 launch of BBC Three.

Coogan at the Frog

The venue was also a favourite of the late Caroline Aherne, below – but as a punter, as she and New Order’s Peter Hook would pop in to the amateur night and cheer on the acts.

Aherne in the audience

 Chris Addison recalled doing his first gig there with Aherne and Gorman in the audience, with the latter giving him words of encouragement after his set got a lukewarm response’

On the club’s 21st birthday Perkin erected a plaque to commemorate all those that had ‘died’ on its stage – and at the time recalled one of the worst: ‘One time someone only said hi before dropping the mic, running off stage in tears and out the front door, never to be seen again’ The plaque, below, was stolen in 2017.

Blue plaque

It’s estimated that around 15,000 comedians have taken part in its amateur nights, and more than a million customers have been through its doors.

Perkin’s daughter Jessica Toomey now runs the club, and a spin-off management agency FAB Comedy, as well as the Women in Comedy festival. She's pictured below with her dad, Phil Ellis and Johnny Vegas at the club's 25th birthday.

Frog at 25

In 2021, comedians expressed their support when the venue was deemed not to be 'culturally significant' enough to receive a post-Covid grant from Arts Council England - even though it had staged a government-sanctioned test gig during lockdown to see how a socially distanced event might work.

At the time, Joe Lycett said: ‘ It was integral to my early stand-up years. To say it is "culturally insignificant’ is akin to saying the careers of Peter Kay, Caroline Aherne etc are "culturally insignificant".’

Whitehall donated thousands of pounds to a fund to get the venue back on its feet, with supporters eventually raising the money Toomey needed to survive.

Jason Mandford now and then...

Manford now

Manford Perkin and Chuck

A young Manford with Perkin and Charlie Chuck

Tonight the likes of Justin Moorhouse, Rachel Fairburn, Josh Jones (below)and Dan Nightingale will celebrate the last 30 years… and look forward to the next 30.

Josh at Frog

Other recent acts:



And older ones...


Daniel Kitson

Pub Landlord

Al Murray


Omid Djalili

Ralph Little having a kickabout

Ralph Little having a kickabout

• Contemporary pictures © Carla Spreight

Published: 22 Feb 2024

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.