YORKSHIRE virtual comedy project Your Place Comedy will return after a brief summer break to deliver a second series of live streamed shows over the next three months, re-starting with Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes.
Corralled by Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones, ten small, independent theatres and arts centres from God’s Own Country and the Humber are coming together again, at a time of continued uncertainty for the industry, to provide entertainment from national touring acts.
“None of the venues involved in the project are able to operate in any meaningful way under social-distancing regulations, which are in place until November at the very earliest,” says Chris.
“So we’ve decided to pull together another series of three, monthly shows that will take us up to a time when possibly, with a steady and consistent wind in the right direction, we are able to open our doors again.”
Broadcast live to viewers’ homes for free, Your Place Comedy season two will begin on Sunday, August 30 with Paul Sinha, star of ITV’s The Chase, BBC television and radio regular and one-time Grand Opera House pantomime baddie in York, and Angela Barnes, 2020 guest host of BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz and frequent Mock the Week panellist on BBC Two.
Each will deliver a set direct from their own home to yours, with full details on how to watch the 8pm show on YouTube and Twitch at yourplacecomedy.co.uk.
“As before, viewers will have an option to make a donation if they have enjoyed the broadcast,” says Chris. “All money raised will be distributed equally among the ten supporting venues, none of which is likely to host live performances for the foreseeable future, having already been shut for over five months.”
Sinha has appeared on BBC 5 Live’s Fighting Talk and BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute, The News Quiz, The Now Show, Loose Ends and his own Rose d’Or-winning series Paul Sinha’s History Revision, as well as on BBC Two’s QI and Dave’s Taskmaster.
“A general knowledge expert, Paul is perhaps best known as The Chase’s ‘Sinnerman’ and is also the reigning British Quizzing champion,” says Chris.
Angela Barnes, a former winner of the BBC New Comedy Award, has presented four series of BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack and has appeared on BBC Two’s Live At The Apollo.
Both Sinha and Barnes have chalked up multiple sold-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe, and their August 30 show takes place on what would have been the 2020 festival’s closing weekend until Covid-19 played its killjoy hand.
Your Place Comedy is a venue-driven initiative that seeks to re-establish the traditional relationship between venue, performer and audience, lost temporarily during the Coronavirus crisis.
“The participating venues 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,” says Chris, who manages both Selby Town Hall and Otley Courthouse.
Those two venues are joined in round two of the virtual venture by The Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Helmsley Arts Centre; Howden Shire Hall; Junction, Goole; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.
“At the start of the pandemic, I don’t think any venues or performers envisaged that, five months in, they would be contemplating the possibility of no live performances taking place for the remainder of 2020,” says Chris.
“While we’re still unable to host live events inside our venues, the arts centres and theatres who came together to create Your Place Comedy are determined to continue delivering shows for their audiences and providing work for artists.”
Exit Edinburgh 2020, re-enter Your Place Comedy. “A big feature of the first show is that it takes place on what would have been the final Sunday of the Edinburgh Fringe,” says Chris. “Both Paul and Angela are Edinburgh stalwarts and should have been performing the last of their nearly month-long run of shows, before embarking on tours throughout autumn.
“We’re thrilled that they’ve decided to spend that time with us instead, joining us via the wonders of modern technology, keeping spirits up across Yorkshire as we look forward to a time when we can all get together again and share the joy of communal laughter.”
The August 30 event will be compered remotely once more by Tim FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler and presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge. Previously, he hosted Mark Beaumont and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont in April; prankster Simon Brodkin and Have I Got News For You panellist-in-lockdown Maisie Adam in May and BBC Radio 4 comedy stalwarts Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans in June.