Comedians rally in support of The Stand | Love and concern as venues say they are on the brink of collapse © The JPS/CC-by-SA 3.0

Comedians rally in support of The Stand

Love and concern as venues say they are on the brink of collapse

Comedians and comedy fans have rallied to the support of The Stand comedy club after it said it was on the verge of collapse.

In an email to supporters, director Eva Mackay said the three venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle had run up a £342,000 loss since lockdown was imposed – and called for bailout help from arts funding bodies.

Following Chortle’s report on the plight yesterday, scores of comics from every level of the industry spread their praise for the club across social media.

Kevin Bridges, who performed his first open mic set at the Glasgow venue, tweeted: ‘No way this can be allowed to happen. Come on  @scotgov. An absolute disaster if these clubs don’t get some arts funding. Comedy is the finest art going.’

Limmy said: ‘I hope The Stand survives. When I did my Fringe shows there in 2007/8, they didn't charge comedians to use their venues, unlike other places. They only took a cut of the tickets, i.e. you never lost a penny. A borderline charity. Very decent people.’

Nish Kumar said: ‘This would be a disaster’ and  Ed Gamble wrote: 'This is horrifying and can’t be allowed to happen. All of the Stands are beacons of quality and hugely important to the cities they’re in and to the UK comedy scene as a whole. All of them have something uniquely magical about them. Surely deserving of all the funding they need.’

Des Clarke said: ‘Seems weird being serious about comedy - but if this place goes we’re screwed. So many amazing memories here. First club ever to give me a paid gig. Really hope @StandComedyClub and all the other great comedy venues get the support to survive.’

The Stand says it pays £1million a year to comedians, as well as a living wage to employees, and in her email, Mackay called on Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government ‘to step up and help before it’s too late’, adding: ‘Without their support there will be no Stand Comedy Club providing a real living wage to its employers, providing revenue for acts and supporting charities.

‘There will be no clubs to provide entertainment enriching the culture of the country.

‘Our world-leading comedy industry is on the brink of collapse and runs the risk of being forgotten by emergency government arts funding.’

The Stand has started running socially distanced gigs in the courtyard of its Newcastle venue this weekend, with three performances a night in an attempt to make the shows viable with drastically reduced audience numbers.

It has also been running livestreamed gigs to raise money and set up a page for donations 

Venues in Scotland are expected to be e allowed to reopen on a limited basis from September 14, unless there is a spike in Covid-19 infections.

Historically, comedy has not benefited from arts funding, although the Scottish Government’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop says comedy should be regarded as an art form and said there would be help available.

And, quoted in The National newspaper, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘Comedy, in my view, is a very fine art form. And, you know, perhaps in these challenging times it’s also a particularly valued art form. We should not lose sight of that.’

Creative Scotland has also said it recognises comedy as an art form eligible  for support, even though  historically it did not receive many applications from the comedy industry.

One of the founders of The Stand is Tommy Sheppard, now an SNP MP and the party's Cabinet Office spokesman in Westminster.

In a livestreamed gig last weekend, comic Susie McCabe made a heartfelt speech about how she felt Creative Scotland had abandoned live comedy, as she also appealed for public support to help clubs survive.

Published: 23 Aug 2020

What do you think?

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.