YORKSHIRE and Humber virtual comedy club Your Place Comedy will play host to its eighth online double bill on Sunday, presenting the remote coupling of Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones.
Co-ordinator Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, says: “After a triumphant return to phones, tablets, laptops and smart TVs on January 24 with Josie Long and Ahir Shah, this collaborative live-stream project, organised by a collective of 12 small, independent northern venues, will once again transport two of the UK’s best stand-ups from their living rooms to yours…and all for free.”
Television comedy mainstay Hal has guested on Have I Got News For You on four occasions, hosted Live At The Apollo, starred in The Royal Variety Performance and appeared as a regular panellist on Mock The Week, popping up on Celebrity Mastermind and Would I Lie To You? too.
Bridlington-born Rosie, a patron of Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, since last May, is one of the fastest-rising stars on the comedy circuit, making her impact on Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week, The Jonathan Ross Show and 8 Out Of 10 Cats and as a panellist on BBC1’s Question Time.
Placed second at the Leicester Mercury New Comedian of the Year Award in 2018, she also has appeared on The Last Leg, Hypothetical and Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, as well as writing for the second series of Netflix hit Sex Education.
Once again, the streamed show will be compered by Tim FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler and presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge.
Your Place Comedy will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast. “The money raised will be used to support the performers and the 12 venues involved, all of whom face continued uncertainty as lockdown regulations have once again prevent theatres from opening,” says Chris, manager of Selby Town Hall and arts officer for Selby Town Council.
“We were really thrilled with the response to Your Place Comedy’s return last month. As venues rooted in communities, we’ve all missed those direct connections with our brilliant and loyal audiences while the pandemic has kept theatre doors shut.
“Being able to share laughter and light-hearted moments from some of the acts who would normally appear on our stages, in what always feels like such a warm and intimate way, has been an incredible tonic over the past year and I’m delighted that acts of Hal and Rosie’s calibre have signed up to take part in this latest edition.
“Hal has been among the most prolific comedy performers of recent years, appearing on every panel show and at every comedy festival going, while Rosie looks set to become a superstar of the near future with burgeoning careers as an actor and children’s author now developing alongside her rapidly increasing comedy profile.”
Joining together to mount Your Place Comedy Season 3 are 2021 additions The Civic, Barnsley, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and Rural Arts, at The Courthouse, Thirsk, alongside Selby Town Hall; Otley Courthouse; Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; The Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.
Delighted at the response to the third wave of Your Place Comedy in lockdown, Chris says: “We had a brilliant return last month with Ahir Shah and Josie Long. Over 600 devices logged on to watch with nearly £1,000 raised in donations to help pay the performers and support the venues involved.
“The acts were brilliant, and it’s been fascinating to watch how quickly and ingeniously comedians have all adapted to the format of online shows over recent months. For many, it works remarkably well, and I do wonder if some version of online gigging in the comedy world will remain even when all of this is over.”
“I know that times are tough for many people, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price, as for now streaming is the only show in town.”
Ahead of Boris Johnson’s Monday pronouncement, Chris had said: “Sadly, I don’t hold out much hope. I’ve got autumn tours now moving to 2022 as they anticipate social distancing for the rest of the year. We won’t have anything in Selby Town Hall until autumn at the earliest.”
Now, with a road map for reopening at least in pencil form after the Prime Minister announced a four-step plan for lockdown easement, Chris says: “It certainly provides a chink of light.
“The headline is that – if all goes according to plan – venues will be able to open in a socially distanced manner from May 17, but no level of social distancing is viable for us, and I still think audience confidence will be low at that point, so it’s unlikely we will re-open ahead of June.”
Chris is only “cautiously optimistic” about that possibility at the 150-capacity Selby Town Hall. “It certainly seems as though, at current trajectory, the vaccination programme will be all but complete by the end of that month, but most tour shows before autumn have already rescheduled.”
Chris believes “we need a longer lead-in time for ticket sales and for audience confidence to return”. “I also await the small print on this – what conditions will be attached to a non-socially distanced reopening?” he ponders. “Will we have to implement rapid testing on site, or ask people to come with either proof of a recent negative PCR test or vaccination ‘passport’…or both?”
Looking ahead, Chris says: “My focus remains on delivering a full autumn programme, and Monday’s announcements give me more confidence that this will be possible.
“If, with a favourable wind, we are to open safely, in a practically and financially viable manner, at full capacity, before September, I will be thrilled. For the moment though, I remain cautious about the chances of any activity taking place in the summer.”
For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the February 28 show, go to: yourplacecomedy.co.uk.