Jongleurs to be sued over posters

Agents' fury at use of big-name acts

Comedy club chain Jongleurs has been forced to take down its advertising billboards over allegations it is misleading punters into thinking big names such as Jimmy Carr, Michael McIntyre and Lee Evans will be playing its venues.

Leading comedy agents Off The Kerb and Hannah Chambers are both taking legal action over a giant billboard which features prominent images of the three stand-up stars beneath the Jongleurs logo.

The 15ft poster in Bournemouth advertises: ‘New comedy club every Friday’ – then gives the booking details, with no suggestion that these three acts would not be appearing:

The campaign has infuriated Off The Kerb boss Addison Cresswell, one of the most powerful agents in Britain, who says he’s taking Jongleurs to court – even thought the company has agreed to remove the billboards.

The move comes days after the chain was accused of muscling in on smaller promoters by seeking to poach established venues from them. Maria Kempinska, who owns the chain with John Davy, said it was just business.

Cresswell, who represents McIntyre and Evans as well as Jonathan Ross, Alan Carr and Jack Dee, raged: ‘This is shocking behaviour, and I’m not having it.

‘I’m livid. They are exploiting my acts, and I’m taking him legally. This is passing off. My acts are the biggest in the country – they play arenas, not these poxy clubs. Lee hasn’t played Jongleurs for 20 years.

‘It would be like a pub advertising music nights with pictures of the Rolling Stones if they played there when they were just starting. It’s bogus advertising – punters expecting those acts will be ripped off.

‘I support small clubs, but this is bang out of order, and bad for the industry. John Davy is more keen on selling his taramasalata and pitta bread in his venues than he is on supporting comedy.

‘He should promote his nights using his own name, not my act’s names – and I’m not putting up with it.’

Cresswell sad he would also be suing for breach of copyright – as he owns the rights to the publicity pictures, which should only be used for genuine promotional or editorial use.

Hannah Chambers, who represents Jimmy Carr, confirmed that she is taking legal action over the posters, too.

Kempinska said: ‘We have, like most other promoters, used images of all comedians who have performed at Jongleurs over the past 27 years.’

But she said she had agreed to remove the billboards, blaming contractors for not having yet done so.

‘We instructed our poster company to remove them last Wednesday,’ she said. ‘They are clearly inefficient and will find a new company who respond quicker.

’We’ve always had good relations with Addison and hope this may continue and he’s welcome at any of our clubs at any time.’

Jongleurs is trying to rebuild an empire of comedy clubs following the collapse of former owner Regent Inns last year. The brand name revered back to Kempinska and Davy, who have been aggressively seeking to re-establish themselves as a force in comedy.

Published: 29 Mar 2010

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