New venue in Store

Club chain expands to Leeds

The Comedy Store is planning to open a new club in Leeds.

It would be the third venue for Britain's best-known comedy club, after London and Manchester.

And it would put the club head-to-head with its main rival Jongleurs, which is opening its Leeds club in December.

Comedy Store owner Don Ward says he's found a suitable venue, and hopes to have the new club open by spring 2003.

The news comes days after it was revealed that the Store is working with Berlin's Club Quatsch to export British-style stand-up to Germany.

He told Chortle: "We felt Berlin was THE place for this now."

"The venue is in an old erotic theatre beneath a Communist theatre in old East Berlin that was built to impress - and it even has the original fittings."

Ward says the parallels with the first Comedy Store, which also opened in a strip club - Soho's Nell Gwynne in 1979 ­ are "eerie".

He added: "It's like Thatcher's Britain over there since reunification, with a mix of entrepreneurs and people who just want the State to provide for them."

"The Comedy Store grew by word of mouth and this will go the same way."

Ward is working with Thomas Hermanns, who has been promoting similar nights in Hamburg for the best part of a decade, and hopes that the joint venture will prove successful enough to lead to more clubs in Munich, Dusseldorf and Cologne, opening the whole country to UK-style stand-up.

British acts such as Steve Rawlings and Hattie Hayridge have been lined up to play the new 300-seater Berlin venue alongside German performers.

Ward said: "The German audience's command of English is astounding. They like the exactly same sort of comedy as we do - but the comics we send have to have clear diction, and no regional accents."

The Comedy Store has been involved in joint ventures in Germany before, but nothing on this scale.


* Channel 5 has commissioned six more stand-up shows from The Comedy Store.

The new programmes will be recorded in December, ready for broadcast in spring next year.

Published: 22 Oct 2002

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