Three cheers for Pocklington Arts Centre, booking Omid Djalili, Mark Watson and Gary Delaney in Punderland for comedy uplift

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has confirmed its first live shows since Tom Rosenthal’s Manhood comedy gig on March 14 last year.

The East Yorkshire venue, in Market Place, Pocklington, has been closed to the public since March 17 2020 but comedian Omid Djalili is to perform twice on Thursday, July 22.

Significantly too, those 7pm and 9pm performances will be without social-distancing measures.

British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for July’s now-cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.

When Pocklington Arts Centre’s festival organisers, director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy, decided not to stage the large-scale indoor festival under the continuing pandemic cloud, award-winning Djalili agreed to do two shows in one night at PAC to ensure all those who had purchased tickets for the festival gig would not miss out.

Pundemonium: Gary Delaney promises oodles of one-liners in his new show next year

Janet says: “We’re over the moon that despite having to change our plans for putting on a full-scale Platform Festival this year, Omid Djalili will perform at PAC twice in one night, and those performances will be non-socially distanced. 

“In the event of Covid restrictions being reintroduced, we will let customers know in advance.” 

Djalili’s comedy is at once intelligent, provocative, boundlessly energetic and rooted in cultural observations, wherein he explores the diversity of modern Britain.

Tickets for the original event at Platform Festival remain valid and any ticket holder needing further information should contact the box office. Remaining tickets for the new shows cost £25 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Looking ahead, Janet says: “We have some outstanding live comedy lined up as part of our forthcoming live events programme, and Omid is the perfect addition to this. 

“We have more exciting announcement coming up and we cannot wait to be able to bring our audiences some incredible live shows once again.”

What’s on for Watson? A third show for Mark Watson at Pocklington Arts Centre next February after earlier visits in 2016 and 2019

Newly in the PAC diary for 2022 are two more comedy shows: Mark Watson on February 12 and  Gary Delaney on May 26 on his newly extended Gary In Punderland tour.

Bristol stand-up comedian, novelist and sports pundit Watson, 41, will be completing a hattrick of Pock appearances, prompting Janet to say: “It will be an absolute joy to welcome Mark Watson back to the venue, having had him perform live here in 2016 and again in 2019. 

“After the year we’ve just had, I think we could all do with some laughter, so Mark is the perfect addition to our forthcoming programme of live comedy.”

In the ever-innovative Watson’s latest show, spiritual enquiry will meet high-octane observational comedy as the Taskmaster survivor and No More Jockeys cult leader attempts to cram a couple of years of pathological overthinking into an evening of stand-up.

Watson has made his Mark not only on Taskmaster but also on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Have I Got News For You and emerged safely from his Celebrity Island experience with Bear Grylls.

Stream team: Compere Tim FitzHigham, left, and comedian Mark Watson in their living rooms for the first Your Place Comedy online show

During the first lockdown last year, Watson was part of the first double bill for Your Place Comedy, the virtual comedy club set up to support independent venues across the Yorkshire and Humber region, including PAC. 

On April 19 2020, a pyjama-clad Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont performed live online from their homes, in his case, in the living room, in hers, down the pub, The Dog And B**tard, that she and fellow comedian husband Jon Richardson have set up in their Hebden Bridge garden.

In Gary In Punterland, longstanding Mock The Week guest Gary Delaney will “dive into a rabbit hole of the best jokes in the world”.

Delaney’s last tour was extended four times, eventually playing more than 200 venues. For the follow-up, apparently Delaney has been through the laughing glass, re-emerging to deliver a new show tooled with punch after punch of knock-out one-liners.

Janet says: “We’re delighted to announce that Gary Delaney will be bringing his new show to our stage next year as part of our live events programme that we can’t wait to resume, welcoming everyone back and having our auditorium filled with laughter once again.”

Tickets for Watson and Delaney’s 8pm shows each cost £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk; seetickets.co.uk are selling Watson tickets too.

Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble lined up for last Your Place Comedy livestream on March 28

Stay Home entertainers: Your Place Comedy double bill Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble

THE final Your Place Comedy virtual double bill for now is confirmed for March 28,  starring Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble live from their living rooms.

“It might be the last one ever, it might not…but there are certainly no more planned at the moment,” says online event founder and organiser Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall arts centre.

“It feels poignant doing the press for next weekend’s Your Place Comedy as Monday marked the first anniversary of the last live show in Selby Town Hall: Wah! frontman Pete Wylie on March 14 2020.

“Who would have thought that a project we started to bridge what everyone assumed would be a small gap in activity would still be the only game in town a whole year on? What a strange place the world has become!”

The collaborative comedy club Your Place Comedy was launched on April 19 last spring with a remote bill of Mark Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont, compered by Tim FitzHigham, who has since hosted each livestreamed show.

Gathered behind the driving force of Chris Jones, ten small, independent venues across the north came together to “provide their audiences with some much-needed laughter during these difficult times”. 

Compere Tim FitzHigham and a pyjama-clad Mark Watson on screen at the first Your Place Comedy livestream last April

“In a nutshell, I was frustrated that the traditional relationship between venue, artist and audience – the venue providing the artist with income and the audience with entertainment – has been eroded for the foreseeable future by Covid-19 and I wanted to find a way to re-create that,” said Chris at the time.

“So, I’ve got ten venues from around Yorkshire and the Humber to chip in a small amount of money to put on a live stream comedy gig this Sunday (April 19).

“Their contributions to Your Place Comedy go towards paying the artists a guaranteed fee at a time when all live income has been taken away, and, in exchange, venues get a show to sell to their own audiences as one of their own, helping maintain those vital relationships with audiences they have nurtured over the years.”

Chris speculated: “If the first one is a success and this looks like a sustainable model, I would hope to do several more through the lockdown period and possibly beyond.”

The first show drew more than 3,500 viewers, Watson very much at home in his pyjamas and Beaumont telling a rather bizarre bedtime story from the homemade pub that her husband, comedian Jon Richardson, has built in their house.

Lucy Beaumont chose her home-built pub as the location for her Your Place Comedy set

“3,500 viewers! That’s considerably more than their combined capacities,” said Chris afterwards. “The show went even better than we had imagined, to say the whole project was put together from scratch in the space of two weeks by three people with no live streaming experience!”

The Your Place Comedy template has since sustained three series of lockdown livestreams from living rooms, kitchens and attics, free to watch on Facebook and YouTube via www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk, but with an option to donate.

The debut fundraiser elicited £3,500 in donations for the participating venues, and all monies raised since then have been distributed evenly among the supporting venues as they navigate their way through challenging financial times.

The first two series in the venue-focused initiative to bring fun to fundraising brought together 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.

For the latest series, Howden’s Shire Hall has dropped out because all staff are furloughed – “they’re still very supportive but didn’t want to feel like they were riding on the coattails of everyone else’s work,” says Chris – and newly on board are The Civic, Barnsley, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and Rural Arts, at The Courthouse, Thirsk.

Justin Moorhouse and Shappi Khorsandi: At the double on September 27 last year

In 2020, the online platform presented Watson and Beaumont (April 19), Simon Brodkin and Maisie Adam (May 10), Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans (June 7), Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes (August 30), Shappi Khorsandi and Justin Moorhouse (September 27) and Robin Ince and Laura Lexx (October 25).

The Stay Home comedy double bills have resumed in 2021 with Josie Long and Ahir Shah on January 24, followed by Hal Cruttenden and Bridlington-born Rosie Jones on February 28.

Now come TV regulars and Taskmaster champions Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble. “I’m pretty excited about this line-up: both stellar performers and both still on the rise,” says Chris. “Hopefully with those names we can get good engagement and, as the young people on social media say, ‘do some numbers’. If this is to be the last show, it’s a great one to go out on.”

Introducing next weekend’s acts, Chris says: “Lou Sanders is one of Britain’s fastest-rising and most original comedy performers. Having won the Comedians’ Choice Award for Best Show at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe – voted for entirely by fellow comics – she has gone on to star in Aisling Bea’s sitcom This Way Up, appear as a guest on QI, Would I Lie To You, The Unbelievable Truth, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Live At The Apollo, and perform on The Late Late Show With James Corden in the USA.

“Best known as a regular panellist on Mock The Week, Ed Gamble’s television credits include the Royal Variety Show, Live At The Apollo, QI and 8 Out Of 10 Cats, while he’s also the co-creator of hugely successful food and comedy podcast Off Menu, alongside James Acaster.

Lou Sanders: “One of Britain’s fastest-rising and most original comedy performers,” says Your Place Comedy organiser Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer

“Both Lou and Ed have been crowned winners of Taskmaster and the two will be competing against one another in a forthcoming Champion of Champions series.”

As ever, the compere will be Tim FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler, presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge and Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee.

As ever too, the livestream will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast, to support both performers and venues.

“All face continued uncertainty as lockdown regulations once again prevent theatres from opening,” says Chris. “The venues involved in Your Place Comedy have now been either closed, or severely restricted in what they can deliver, for over a year.

“I don’t think, back in March 2020, any of us in our wildest dreams would have foreseen that 12 months on, the need to connect with audiences in novel, innovative ways would still be so vital, and that engaging with arts and culture online would have become the norm.

Chairman of the bored? Ed Gamble will look to liven everyone up from his living room on March 28

“It’s been so heartening to see the entire live entertainment industry pulling together though, and a real thrill to be able to collaborate remotely with different venues in a project which may otherwise never have come to pass.”

Roll on next weekend. “Sunday, March 28 will be our final scheduled show, although I hope not the last one ever, and I’m delighted that two acts with such impressive live and broadcast CVs have signed up to take part,” says Chris.

“It’s not often that you get the chance to see performers of their calibre deliver a live set without having to pay a penny, so do make the most of it and join us for another night of stellar laughs.”

For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the March 28 show, visit www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk.

Fitz the bill: Tim FitzHigham has hosted every Your Place Comedy livestream since last April

Your Place Comedy debut is a stream dream of a Yorkshire living room hit

Stream team: Your Place Comedy compere Tim FitzHigham, left, and a pyjama-clad Mark Watson on screen during April 19’s online gig

REASONS to be cheerful part one. The first Your Place Comedy night, streamed live from Mark Watson and Lucy Beaumont’s living rooms to yours, was a big success.

Compered by Tim FitzHigham, Sunday’s online fundraiser for ten small, independent northern venues in Coronavirus shutdown drew more than 3,500 viewers.

“That’s considerably more than their combined capacities,” says a delighted event co-ordinator Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer, who manages the Selby Town Hall arts centre.

“The show went even better than we had imagined, to say the whole project was put together from scratch in the space of two weeks by three people with no live streaming experience!” 

Reasons to be cheerful part two. “The show was free to watch on Facebook and YouTube, with an option to donate. We received £3,500 in donations, which will now be split between the venues,” says Chris.

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.

“In a nutshell, I was frustrated that the traditional relationship between venue, artist and audience – the venue providing the artist with income and the audience with entertainment – has been has been eroded for the foreseeable future by Covid-19 and I wanted to find a way to re-create that,” says Chris.

“So, at a time of huge uncertainty and upheaval in the Coronavirus lockdown, including for the live entertainment industry, I got these venues from around Yorkshire and the Humber to come together to provide our audiences with some much-needed laughter during these difficult times, each chipping in a small amount of money to put on Sunday’s live stream.

Lucy Beaumont: “Rather bizarre bedtime story”

“Their contributions to Your Place Comedy go towards paying the artists a guaranteed fee at a time when all live income has been taken away, and, in exchange, venues get a show to sell to their own audiences as one of their own, helping maintain those vital relationships with audiences they have nurtured over the years.”

Reasons to be cheerful part three. “Both Lucy and Mark were fantastic. Mark is relatively experienced when it comes to live streaming and was comfortable enough with the format to perform in his pyjamas,” says Chris.

“For Lucy, it was a first foray into ‘audience-free’ comedy, but her set was pitch perfect – even featuring a rather bizarre bedtime story! – and broadcast live from the pub that her husband, [comedian] Jon Richardson, has built in their house.”

How did the format work, Chris? “We were very aware that one of the limitations of live streamed comedy was a lack of audience interaction, so we devised a function that allowed viewers to send messages directly to the acts,” he says.

“This worked incredibly well and really gave the show that extra feeling of intimacy and warmth that you get from watching comedy in a small venue environment.”

Before Sunday’s inaugural show, Chris said: “If the first one is a success and this looks like a sustainable model, I would hope to do several more through the lockdown period and possibly beyond.”

Reasons to be cheerful part four. “We’re now planning a second show, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, May 3, with two new acts on the bill,” he says. “Watch this space.” Then watch www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk when the line-up is confirmed.

Should you still be wondering what exactly was Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont’s “rather bizarre bedtime story”…..no, you should have been watching!

Watson and Beaumont’s Sunday fun-day for your place from their living rooms

Come Hull or high water, Lucy Beaumont will be streaming online from her living room on Sunday

MARK Watson and Lucy Beaumont will star in the first Your Place Comedy night in a streamed show live from their living rooms on Sunday at 8pm.

At a time of huge uncertainty and upheaval in the Coronavirus lockdown, not least for the live entertainment industry, ten small, independent venues across the north have come together to “provide their audiences with some much-needed laughter during these difficult times”. 

The driving force behind the online venture is Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer, who manages the Selby Town Hall arts centre. “In a nutshell, I was frustrated that the traditional relationship between venue, artist and audience – the venue providing the artist with income and the audience with entertainment – has been eroded for the foreseeable future by Covid-19 and I wanted to find a way to re-create that,” he says.

“So, I’ve got ten venues from around Yorkshire and the Humber to chip in a small amount of money to put on a live stream comedy gig this Sunday (April 19), featuring Mark Watson and Lucy Beaumont and compered by Tim FitzHigham.”

Joining together in this venue-focused initiative 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.

What’s on at home: Mark Watson , live from his living room

“Their contributions to Your Place Comedy go towards paying the artists a guaranteed fee at a time when all live income has been taken away, and, in exchange, venues get a show to sell to their own audiences as one of their own, helping maintain those vital relationships with audiences they have nurtured over the years,” says Chris.

“The show will be free to watch on Facebook and YouTube via www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk, but with an option to donate. All monies raised will be distributed evenly among the ten supporting venues, each of them now having to navigate their way through some challenging financial times.”

Mark Watson is an Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, television panel show regular and ever innovative performer. Lucy Beaumont, from Hull, is a BBC New Comedy Award winner who writes BBC Radio 4’s To Hull And Back and stars in the Dave channel’s Meet The Richardsons. Compere Tim Fitzhigham writes and stars in BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler and presents CBBC’s Super Human Challenge.

Summing up the living-room comedy initiative, Chris says: “In these trying times, when the wonderful audiences who make the work we do possible are unable to visit our venues in person, and when the performers who rely on us for their livelihoods have had many months’ worth of shows cancelled, the organisations involved in Your Place Comedy want to help support those who make live entertainment happen, bringing a little bit of joy to the audiences we miss so much.

“If the first one is a success and this looks like a sustainable model, I would hope to do several more through the lockdown period and possibly beyond.”

Compere Tim FitzHigham

For full details of Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the show, visit www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk.