Now that's monkey business...

Venue dumps comedy club – then asks rivals to take over

A comedy promoter is furious after being pub bosses turfed him out of his home of almost six years – then immediately approached rival bookers to take over the room.

Martin Besserman learned this summer that his Monkey Business club was being kicked out of the Sir Richard Steele pub in Camden, North London, after it was taken over by a new company.

Only later did he find out that the company, Faucet Inn, had approached the Comedy Cafe to book comedians into the room he had built up.

It is thought good progress had been made on the deal until the Cafe pulled out, for fear of being seen as poaching his business.

‘I’ve got really emotional about it,’ Besserman told Chortle. ‘There is no promoter who is equal to me in terms of passion, and the pub must have benefited from that, and the audiences I brought in.’

Besserman – who has previously attracted the likes of Harry Hill, Stephen Merchant and Russell Brand to his nights –  said that new corporate owners did not come to any of his shows in the 120-capacity function room before making their decision. And he insisted audience numbers were good, aside from some quieter nights over the summer.

Besserman also laid some blame on to the Comedy Cafe, which has its own venue in Shoreditch, for progressing with the discussions, saying: ‘People get away with this sort of thing. If promoters didn’t poach others’ clubs, comedy would be a much nicer industry. It should be about fun and laughter.’

The story echoes the case of Big Night Out, who were forced out of Sway Bar in Covent Garden by Jongleurs last year. At the time the independent outfit said the move created ‘a worrying precedent for promoters’ who faced losing businesses they painstakingly built up on the whim of a venue owner.

Monkey Business’s last night at the Sir Richard Steele will be October 29 – and Faucet had wanted Comedy Cafe – which already provides comedy for its Grasshopper Inn in Moorhouse, Kent – to take over from the very next week. It is not now known if another promoter would take on the room.

Mick Taylor, of Comedy Cafe said: ‘We work closely with Faucet Inn on a number of projects, so naturally when they took on The Sir Richard Steele they asked us if we would like to run and supply the comedy to the upstairs room currently run as the Monkey Business comedy venue. We declined the offer.’

Faucet Inn did not respond to a request for comment.

Published: 27 Sep 2011

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