YOUR Place Comedy returns for one last hurrah on October 25 as a Rule of Six of a different kind applies to the Yorkshire virtual comedy club.
After Mark Watson and Lucy Beaumont, Simon Brodkin and Maisie Adam, Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans, Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes, Shappi Khorsandi and Justin Moorhouse, now Robin Ince and Laura Lexx form the sixth and final double bill of headline sets, live-streamed for free from their living rooms to yours next weekend.
“Created and funded by ten small, independent venues from across Yorkshire and the Humber, the project has allowed some of our best-loved theatres and arts centres to continue presenting great performances while their doors have remain closed, with nationally acclaimed touring acts delivering unique and intimate sets, live from their own homes,” says comedy co-ordinator Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer.
“However, as restrictions across the north of England tighten once more, both performers and venues recognise that it may be some considerable time before live events can be held safely, at a capacity which makes them financially viable.”
Reflecting on Your Place Comedy’s six-of-the-best run of remote shows in lockdown and beyond, and now into these “Not a full lockdown but…” times, Chris says: “Our virtual comedy club has provided a fantastic opportunity for venues to explore new ways of providing entertainment to their audiences.
“We’ve presented virtual gigs from the kind of acts who, in normal times, might be appearing on stages across the region, enabling performers to innovate and adapt to a style of delivery that may be with us for good, as well as to earn some vital income.”
Looking ahead to next Sunday’s double bill, Chris says: “I’m thrilled that Robin and Laura have agreed to headline our final show. While Laura looks set to be one of the big stars of the next decade, having racked up a hugely impressive CV of live accolades and broadcast credits in just a few short years, Robin remains one of the most diverse and inventive acts in the business.
“He melds ideas on art, literature, music and science into some of the most brilliant and thought-provoking comedy you’re ever likely to hear.
“As always, the show remains completely free to watch, so please do come and join Laura, Robin and compere Tim FitzHigham, and help us give Your Place Comedy a grand send-off!”
Ince co-hosts the Sony Gold Award-winning BBC Radio 4 series The Infinite Monkey Cage alongside Professor Brian Cox, also co-presenting Book Shambles With Robin And Josie, a hit podcast with fellow comedian Josie Long that draws more than 100,000 listeners a month.
As a stand-up, Ince has won three Chortle Awards and the Time Out Outstanding Achievement Award and was nominated for the British Comedy Awards’ Best Live Show.
Lexx has twice won Best Show at the Comedian’s Choice Awards, voted for entirely by fellow comics, and landed a coveted place in Dave’s Top Ten Jokes of the Edinburgh Fringe.
Last month, she released her first book, Klopp Actually: (Imaginary) Life With Football’s Most Sensible Heartthrob, after going viral during lockdown with her fictional Twitter thread about marriage to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Hosted once again by the writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler, Tim FitzHigham, alias Pittancer of Selby, next Sunday’s double bill 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 both the performers and the ten venues involved, all of whose livelihoods have been thrown into jeopardy with precious few opportunities to derive any meaningful income from live performances since lockdown closed venues in the middle of March,” says Chris, who programmes both Selby Town Hall and the Otley Courthouse.
Taking part too in the lockdown comedy scheme have been The Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; East Riding Theatre, Beverley, Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; Shire Hall, Howden; Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.
Reflecting on the impact of the ground-breaking Your Place Comedy scheme, Chris says: “It’s been such an enjoyable project and has evolved into something quite distinct from both TV comedy shows and live gigs: a very intimate, personal experience, more like a podcast than a raucous live show.
“It’s also provided an excellent opportunity to shine a light on the venues involved, to remind people we’re still here – even if we can’t open our doors – and to deliver entertainment to our audiences from the kind of acts who would otherwise be appearing across the region in less challenging times.”
Explaining the decision to call time on the virtual shows, Chris reasons: “Unfortunately, live-streaming is a difficult format to make financially sustainable and the project in its current form has really run its course now.
“The industry as a whole remains in a perilous position, though, and there’s still precious little work available for performers of all stripes. The venues involved will continue to work together, exploring ways in which they can support each other and the artists they miss hosting so much.”
For full details on Your Place Comedy and to find out how to watch next Sunday’s 8pm show, visit www.yourplacecomedy.co.uk.