JO Caulfield and Simon Evans will perform live from their living rooms on Sunday in the third edition of Yorkshire’s virtual comedy project Your Place Comedy.
Once more, Selby Town Hall is collaborating with nine other small, independent arts centres and theatres from across Yorkshire and the Humber to provide an evening of entertainment from two touring acts, broadcast live to viewers’ homes for free on YouTube and the Twitch video live streaming service.
After the 8pm online double bill hosted remotely by regular compere Tim FitzHigham, viewers will have an option to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast. All money raised will be distributed equally among the ten supporting venues, as they each seek to navigate their way through these challenging times when closed down under the Covid-19 strictures.
After Mark Watson and Lucy Beaumont on April 19, followed by Simon Brodkin and Maisie Adam on May 10, this weekend is the turn of a brace of BBC Radio 4 comedy stalwarts, Caulfield and Evans.
Both have appeared on BBC2’s Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo; between them, they have guested on BBC1’s Have I Got News For You and Question Time, BBC2’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Channel 4’s Stand Up For The Week.
They are regulars on BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show, The News Quiz, The Unbelievable Truth and Just A Minute, while Caulfield has starred in three series of her own show, It’s That Jo Caulfield Again, and Evans has written and presented five series of Simon Evans Goes To Market.
Host FitzHigham is the writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gamble and presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge.
“Your Place Comedy is a venue-driven initiative that tries to re-establish the traditional relationship between venue, performer and audience that has been temporarily lost during the Covid-19 crisis,” says organiser Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer and manager of Selby Town Hall.
“The venues participating in the project have all pledged funds to both support the performers involved and to provide their audiences with entertainment from the kind of artists who, in normal times, would have been appearing in their local arts centre or theatre.”
Chris continues: “While sadly our doors remain closed for the immediate future, this hasn’t stopped venues from across the region working hard to find new ways of delivering high-quality entertainment in innovative formats to the audiences they miss so much.
“All the theatres and arts centres involved in Your Place Comedy are deeply rooted in their communities and want to maintain those vital links that allow them to bring some of the most sought-after national and international touring acts to the towns and cities of Yorkshire and beyond. We are all determined to help keep the live performance industry afloat at a time when it has never been needed more.”
Joining together in this rolling initiative to put the fun into fundraising are Selby Town Hall; The Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; Shire Hall, Howden; Otley Courthouse; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.
Looking forward to this weekend’s double bill, Chris says: “There’s a distinct Radio 4 vibe this time round with two stalwarts of the network, and two of the slickest, most accomplished and effortlessly funny acts around, Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans, taking to the virtual stage. Both Jo and Simon have sold out Selby Town Hall before.
“In a fit of nostalgia the other day, I was thinking back to the first time I ever saw a live stand-up show…and I’m certain it was Simon Evans, performing as part of the Carlsberg Ice Comedy Network at the University of York in late 2000. I can still remember the gags – and that doesn’t happen very often! He was brilliant.”
What’s next for Your Place Comedy? “We’ll stop and take stock after this show, see what lessons small venues in the region can take from the exercise and whether there is a financially viable future in live streaming that supports artists, venues and audiences as this [venue closure] predicament inevitably runs into the autumn and beyond,” says Chris, who initially had speculated on the possibility of a run of five such shows.
For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the June 7 show, visit yourplacecomedy.co.uk.