Jongleurs announces comeback gigs | Brand under the new ownership of comic Kev Orkian

Jongleurs announces comeback gigs

Brand under the new ownership of comic Kev Orkian

The reborn Jongleurs comedy club has announced its first batch of dates, featuring old-school comics as well as circuit stalwarts.

One of the first events to be staged under the banner will be at the Blackpool Winter Gardens later this month featuring former EastEnders star Shaun Williamson alongside  Bobby Davro, pictured, and Billy Pearce.

Last year, Chortle reported how Britain’s Got Talent comedian Kev Orkian has brought the troubled brand, with plans to revive it.

Shows featuring circuit regulars such as Rudi Lickwood, Mike Gunn, Susan Murray have been announced at the Century private members’ club in London, the Concorde Club in Eastleigh, Hampshire, the Stirrup Cup near Kettering and the Highland Restaurant in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

In December, Orkian told performers’ newspaper The Stage: ‘My vision is to re-establish the brand to once again lead the comedy circuit as a club which lives and breathes what they originally stood for: providing great working conditions for acts, with well-managed shows, offering more opportunities for upcoming comics and sharing more diverse line ups, and of course, ultimately providing our audiences with the highest quality of comedy entertainment.’

Maria Kempinska founded the first Jongleurs in Battersea, South London in 1983.

In 2000, it had grown to a chain of eight and she and business partner John Davy sold them to Regent Inns for more than £7million

That company collapsed in 2009, with the rights to the brand name reverting to Kempinska and Davy. 

In 2011, nightclub operators Luminar, which were running Jongleurs clubs in 12 of their venues was put into administration. Several of the comedy clubs were subsequently closed.

Luminar was revived under a so-called ‘pre-pack’ arrangement so it could keep trading, and as struck a deal with fellow nightclub owners Momo to open more Jongleurs clubs. But Momo went bust in 2013.

In 2016, Jongleurs lost its licensing deal to run clubs in Camden, Birmingham, Reading and Watford, which were The Comedy Loft and then Just The Tonic.

Published: 2 May 2021

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