An Interview with Cat Alvarado


Villains of History! Live in Flagstaff!

The Mumble just had to check out the backstory

Hello Cat! Can you tell us about your Latin American heritage?
My mother is from Nicaragua, and I grew up visiting almost every summer to see family. I still have many uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews there who I miss very much! One of my favorite things about my Nicaraguan heritage is that the country have such an amazing history of people trying to take over, and then against all odds regaining freedom again. Unfortunately, it usually leads to another tyrant, but Nicaragua still manages to pull through.

When did you first realise you were funny?
In 6th grade I took a drama class at summer camp, and we did the Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged. Somehow I ended up playing King George in a slow motion football game (for the crown), and the physical comedy & silliness came very naturally to me. Everyone in the class doubled over at my King George, and I new I wanted to make people laugh more somehow. Before I did stand up I did theatre for several years, and I never failed to find my way into funny supporting character roles and I played the heck out of them.

How did you get into stand-up?
In college I had gone away from theatre and majored in Economics, but once I got my first 9 to 5 I quickly realized how much I missed my passion. Luckily, I was friends with someone who ran a comedy show in a pizza shop in town. He was nice enough to give me 5 minutes in front of an audience. I tried it, and was a natural. I knew I needed to keep going, and here I am 5 years later.

What does your mother think of all this comedy malarkey?
She thinks I’ll never meet a husband. “Men don’t like women who are out late at night”. But deep down, I know she’s very proud.

Where do you find the comedy in what is essentially the rather serious situation in Nicaragua?
There’s nothing funny about the people who have been killed while protesting dictatorship. However, there is something funny about how dumb the dictator thinks people are. Dictators will flat out lie and deny everything, even when there’s proof beyond proof. There’s a lot of comedy in the lies. After the initial 25 people were killed in protests (his officers shot at peaceful protesters), he told the press that a small group of right wingers from the US were trying to stage a coupe. Just about the whole country knew that was BS, and they staged a historic march on April 20th with over 1 million people throughout the country to let Ortega know they supported the protesters and that these protesters were not representing some tiny group of US agitators.


Can you tell us about Villains of History? 
Villains of History is a podcast I created in which I and a guest comedian talk about the life of different horrible people throughout history. That includes dictators, serial killers, cult leaders, and even some US Presidents. I was inspired to do this podcast by how little people know about what is happening and has happened outside of the US. While performing at a college this year, I had a COLLEGE student ask “what’s the cold war?” When Fidel Castro died a few years ago, there were actually people on my facebook who were sad about his death (none of them Cubans). We need more content that gets people to learn their history. As they say, if we don’t learn from it, we are doomed to repeat it.

You’ve got three famous comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Maria Bamford, Jim Gaffigan, and Lewis Black. I would definitely treat them to some Nicaraguan food. Probably a delicious carne asada (flank steak), some steamed yucca, Nicaraguan coleslaw, & fried plantain chips.


You’re performing at this year’s Big Pine; what are you bringing to the table?
I’m bringing that fire! I’ve got some great jokes, and a super interesting live podcast!

How is a podcast translating into live performance?
Audience members will be able to ask questions at the end. Jamie Kennedy is our guest, which is VERY exciting. He’s probably the biggest guest I’ve had so far, and it’s such a privilege to be working with him for the live show. It’s going to be a great time!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Flagstaff?
If you like history & true crime, and have a sense of humor, come to the live taping of the Villains of History podcast on Sunday September 22nd at Blendz! It’s going to be super fun! You can check out the podcast ahead of time by finding it on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts & Spotify!



Sunday, September 22nd (14.00)


Big Pine Comedy

You can also catch Cat’s stand-up at the following times/places:

Wednesday 18: Comedians Under the Influence @ 11:30 pm at Orpheum Theatre

Thursday 19: Calendar Shoot @ 3:30 pm at Green Room / Frequent Delinquents with Lisa Landry @ 10 pm @ Green Room *Industry Showcase*

Friday 20: Headbangers Comedy Ball with Orlando Leyba @ 10 pm @ Green Room

Saturday 21: Lumber Jills with Jackie Fabulous @ 8pm at Green Room (Host)

An Interview with The Bareback Kings

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The Bareback Kings are smashing their hilarious way through the gender barrier

Hello Barebacks, first things first, where are you all from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Alice: We hail from London, Birmingham and Canada. We are now dotted around Zones 1 and 2 of London.

Hello, The Bareback Kings. First things first, what happens at one of your shows?
Jules: Essentially, we’re an all-female, drag king, improvised comedy team. In our shows we play the same male characters – Brent, Seb, Dirk, Gary – every time, but the shows are always wildly different and completely unplanned. We never know what to expect! At the top of the show our characters chat up some lucky members of the audience. Then the lads discuss whatever’s on our and our audience’s minds and use that chat as the inspiration for a series of fully-improvised, impromptu comedy scenes. And, more often than not, someone ends up boning someone else.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
Alice: To quote Lady Gaga, “I live for the applause, applause, applause
I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause”

Can you tell us about how an improv school works, like Free Association, Monkey Toast and Upright Citizens Brigade?
Rebecca: Well first, there is a challenging entrance examination. If you pass that, it’s on to eight gruelling years of torturous sleight-of-hand training and the occasional game of quidditch. After that, you emerge with new found courage, spontaneity and a degree in wizardry. But, for realzies, each school varies a bit but for the most part it’s around 5 levels. If you’ve done improv before, some schools will let you audition to start at level 2. In level 1, you learn the basics of how to “yes and” and build the foundation for a scene. In level 2/3, you typically learn how to play the “game” of the scene and some more advanced improv tricks. Level 4, it’s the Harold, one of the more complex longform formats. And then level 5 is anything extra, like other formats or openings.

What is ‘long-form improv?’
Jules: To my mind, long form improv is anything that isn’t a five minute improvised game, the type of which you see on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of short form, it’s where my improv life began. Long form has no rules to how you play – you’re not trying to guess something or anything like that. So it’s a looser, longer style of improv.


When did you first realise you were funny?
Francesca: The first time I made people laugh, I wasn’t even cognisant that I was doing so. I am told by my familythat aged 3 or so on our annual jaunt to the pantomime, I was apparently prancing up and down the aisle with my own wand when the fairy godmother appeared, uttering “What you wish?!”. I started dancing aged 3 and have been a performer ever since. I come from a very expressive family of Londoner publicans who always added a little flair to what they were saying and I guess it was just second nature to me. Therefore, when many little girls got the message to sit down, be quiet and not make fart sounds – mine somehow got lost in the post. I always felt I was a little odd and an outlier, as the things I found funny and the way I would act was so different to everyone else. However when I got further into comedy and in particular improv, I realised there were other odd bods like me.


How did you get into comedy in the first place?
Alice: I’ve always loved comedy and I used to write and perform sketches when I was younger. Then I went a long time without it, and I missed it – I ached for it like a long-lost skilful lover. And so I took the plunge and enrolled in a comedy improv class and have never looked back.

Which comedians have inspired you; both old skool & contemporary?
Jules: Once you start thinking about it it’s kind of everyone, isn’t it? Even comics you don’t like inspire you. Constant sources of joy and inspiration include Julia Davis, Flight Of The Conchords and their incredible solo careers, Lolly Adefope, Tash and Jamie Demetriou, Kemah Bob (who also has a drag king alter ego), Luke McQueen, and the inimitable Zoe Coombs Marr.

What are the three main differences between an Improviser & a Stand-Up?
Rebecca: Two make-believe turntables and a tangible microphone.


What are the differences between a bad MC & a good one?
Francesca: A good MC and a bad MC are worlds apart. The worst MC’s are the kinds that create an awkward energy in the room, making the audience retreat into their chairs, making the work of the acts tenfold to get the audience back on side. They can do that by being really aggressive with the audience, by being super low energy and avoidant or by being extremely awkward. It’s also a major bummer if they are too overflowing with praise as it sets a high pedestal you must climb upon before you can delight and then we can all enjoy. The best MC’s are responsive to the audience and create a warm and thriving atmosphere. Audience interaction is fine by me and has reaped some of my peak comedic moments, however it is key to not be cliche and focus on the front row and rely on the audience for it all. They should merely be your stimulus. Also, if someone isn’t into it – leave them alone! When an MC has set the room gently aflame, without doing too much of their material (that can kill the flow) it gives you a machine that’s been running a while, so you can hit the ground running. Being a good comedian isn’t the same as being a good MC. In the way only special folk who have the nature and desire can be teachers, the same applies to MC’s.

What’s the difference between live comedy and the stuff you get on the telly?
Alice: The stuff on the telly is obviously honed and brilliant. But with the live stuff, you get to feel like you’re part of it. Like an in joke with a best friend or your work wife.


Can you tell us about Brent Would?
Francesca: Well he’s a Metrosexual Essex Boy and aspiring YouTuber, on a journey to being woke. Trying hard but often getting it wrong… He is clown, musical improv and stand up all rolled into one denim clad drag king shaped ball. He was born out of my love for drag and the wider LGBTQIA community. I had started going to various shows and I met the divine drag queen Hollie Would, who had me as a co-host on her radio show on Wandsworth Radio. Where we interviewed the marvellous Adam All – who is a an incredible figure in the drag community and a super supportive and talented drag king! Adam mentioned the competition “Man Up!” for drag kings and I thought…maybe I’ll dip a toe in. I did and the water was good! So that was in 2016 and since then he has performed far and wide and has even been on the Telly getting a wicked cool makeover! Brent allows me to push the envelope comedically and to straddle the taste line and push into territories that Francesca gets judged for, which is both exciting and frustrating. Brent is just a total lad, watch out he’ll ask you out…

You know a good improv show when you’ve done one – what are the special ingredients?
Rebecca: Listening, reacting, having fun!


How did The Bareback Kings get together?
Francesca: We were sat having a drink and a chat after a Monkey Toast gig in Elephant and Castle back in 2017 and we started to chat about gender in comedy and drag kings. We all wanted a way to feel less confined by gender onstage, and we wanted to make the audience question how much they assume when they see a female performer step onto the stage. And we all really love drag! One thing led to another with us all giving an emphatic “Yes and…” and The Bareback Kings were born. We knew we wanted to play the same male characters at every show, so we could really dig deep into who they were as people. We started jamming together and finding out our characters’ individual and collective backstories, and then gigged a tonne. We have travelled the globe with the lads and we have so much more room for growth. All teams need to evolve and we are committed to doing so and can’t wait to see what the future holds for our lads.


What are the creative processes behind writing Bareback’s material?
Jules: Our Camden Fringe show is a slight departure from our typical Bareback Kings improvised sets. There will be plenty of improv in the show but we’re also introducing sketch and song for the first time. The creative process is loosely that we each come to rehearsal with an idea – be it a topline thought for a funny premise to a sketch, a script we’ve been working on, a song we’d like to spoof, or a new way into an improv set. We discuss it, improvise around it, get it up on its feet, give feedback, and finesse it together. If required, the person whose idea it is goes away and writes it up. Then we do it in a gig! Sometimes the person who brought the idea loses faith in it, in which case we’ll try to work out how to salvage it together but if we can’t, it’s ok to let it go. We’re lucky in that we can be honest with one another about our ideas, and we also find each other very funny.


The Bareback Kings are performing at this year’s Camden Fringe; can you tell us about the show?
Rebecca: This will be our very first hour-long show! Exciting, I know. The same four lads trying to figure out how to be woke yet still maintain their lad credentials. Since they have more time on their hands, they’ll tackle even more issues through improv, sketch, and song – from how to successfully repress emotions, to mansplaining away the worst male behaviour our audience has encountered. Pop by The Taproom, August 5th and 6th, at 7pm to catch it!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of London…
Alice: Come and see us, it is genuinely a unique hour of your life. We make fun of the worst boyfriend you’ve ever had. Also, I totally look fit as a lad.

The Bareback Kings

The Taproom

Aug 5 & 6 (13:30)




Glasgow Comedy Festival
March 27th, 2019

As one of the Glasgow Comedy Festival performances, I was really impressed with the quality of Commissioned and the range of comics, poets and artists on hand. Based around the theme of holidays, each artist was given two weeks to prepare their material for the show. Performed within the basement room of the State Bar, the venue really suited the intimacy of the show, and made for a friendly, participative energy between the acts and the audience.

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Elaine Malcolmson

The warm, communal liveliness of Commissioned was mastered by the show’s host, Elaine Malcolmson, jumping with ease between crowdwork over terrible holidays, to playfully abusing a Brexiteer sitting in the front row. She also acknowledged the initially disorganised feel to the show, with some of the comics who were billed not turning up on the night. Malcolmson followed this with a brilliant bit on some of the worst excuses she has ever been given for comic no-shows (“my girlfriend cut her finger”). For an event that was also slightly hindered by having its show-time wrongly listed online, Malcolmson did a fantastic job as host.

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Cat Hepburn

As one of the first acts, spoken word artist Cat Hepburn gave an excellent, early dynamism to the show by performing a set based around the worst experiences her female friends had encountered while on holiday with their ex-boyfriends. As a naturally likeable performer, she helped the audience quickly settle into the show, and was well-received. This was followed by a spoken word performance by Kevin P. Gilday, who told a hilarious story explaining why people with anxiety, such as himself, really shouldn’t travel to the forests of Ghana. His piece about trying to fend off poisonous snakes while travelling through African villages filled with machete-carrying inhabitants was brilliant.

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Sian Bevin

Closing the first half of the show, Sian Bevin shone as one of the show’s most impressive performers. Her observations on the privileged tourists she encountered on her travels in India stood out as one of the night’s sharpest moments, and her very personable, slightly awkward style worked really well with her material. The second half of the show continued with a very funny, neurotic animated comedy by EM. Steven Dick followed with a clever video short on his recent “holiday” to Aberdeen, dotted with misery inducing shots of the town and his Megabus journey. Timing between the divergent acts was one of the show’s biggest strengths, and a testament to Malcolmson’s excellent hosting.

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Scott Agnew

Scott Agnew delivered a clever finale to the show, and easily stood out as Commissioned’s best act of the night. Having seen Agnew numerous times at the Stand, the indomitable, raw liveliness he brought to the stage reinforced why he is considered to be one of Glasgow’s strongest professional comics, weaving cleverly between reminiscences on shite holidays and other pieces. His domineering stature accentuated his material, where Agnew, seated awkwardly on a small stool, gulped portions of his beer between main punchlines and tags. Seeing him in action again was a real delight, and delivered a perfect finish to an already excellent and diverse show.

Overall, I was impressed with Commissioned, and thought it made an excellent contribution to the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Ambitious in its structure, it struck the right chord between experimentation and expertise, and ensured a real diversity to the structure of its line-up that others show haven’t done quite as well. Now celebrating its seventh year in the scene, Commisioned’s performance at the 2019 Glasgow Comedy Festival was a real delight to watch, and I’m looking forward to future contributions.

James Nixon

An Interview with Andrew White


Bubbling with the comedy ebullience of youth, Andrew White is taking his teenage wisdom on the road… 

Hello Andrew, so first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Surrey but grew up in Bournemouth where a lot of my family is. Then, for the last ten years I’ve been just outside of Salisbury for schooling reasons. It’s a really lovely area, but nothing ever happens (Russian business aside). On the one hand it means I’ve managed to build a circuit of local gigs without much competition, but on the other hand, most other events are at least an hour away.

When did you first realise you were funny?
When I was cocky little fearless 15 year old. I got up on stage thinking I was hilarious. Ever since, though, it’s just been a spiral into self-doubt and imposter’s syndrome. If I hadn’t started then, I don’t think current me would give comedy a go.

How did you get into performing comedy?
There was a youth performance open mic in Salisbury and I wen along to try out doing some jokes. I’d always loved stand-up and really wanted to do the same as what I watched on TV. As any other comedian would’ve already guessed, the open mic was all music acts and it was a strange environment to tell jokes. Luckily, the woman running it (Flo) was involved in comedy through improv and steered me towards proper comedy environments.

If your style was a soup, what would be the ingredients?
Minestrone in a sieve. There’s a lot going on, and not all of it works for me, but I’m slowly picking out the best ingredients and trying new ones to form the most satisfying soup.

What are the creative processes behind writing your material?
A lot of the time an initial idea comes to me whilst thinking random thoughts to myself. A certain train of thought may make me smile, and then I’ll try and hear myself saying it on stage, and if it sounds workable I’ll write it down. Then development comes from a mix of sitting and writing out, talking it through in my head, and finally saying it aloud at a new material night. Occasionally I’ll write with another comic called Sunjai Arif as well, that outside view on material is always useful, plus he’s very funny!

As a post-Millennial, do you find that comedy is changing, is the material of older comics still relevant?
Comedy is definitely changing, and for the better I think. It’s becoming a much more creative and exciting art form. There’s a focus on originality & well written material, whilst cheap punchlines / premises are rightly being snubbed by industry and audience alike. The material of older comics’ is definitely still relevant, provided it’s funny, engaging, and original. That has nothing to do with age though, that’s just about the calibre of the comedian. In fact, it’s often younger comedians who will deliver “irrelevant” material, just because they’ve not learned that it won’t fly anymore. I could list dozens of older comics who are some of the funniest and most original acts about, but I think the praise would be somewhat tainted with me calling them “older comics”!

What is your ideal Sunday afternoon?
A game of football with friends, and then home to a light dinner, hot bath, and a film.


Can you tell us about the show?
It is all about me wanting to quit stand-up and how university will be better for me. I’m currently on my gap year doing comedy full time, but it’s not everything I imagined it to be, and after one particularly awful gig, I decided that would be that. The show follows on from the gig looking at the benefits of higher education, and asking how much value I could add to the stand-up world anyway. There is some lingering lust for comedy that shines through though, and it becomes more difficult a decision than I first thought…

Where did you get the idea for Retirement Tour, & is the reality realising your original vision?
I had the idea during Edinburgh last year, but it was mainly a provocative joke title. Since then it has changed massively and I’m actually torn between the two paths in real life. From a stupid joke idea, it’s become a very real, very honest, and very soul-bearing show. I’m still living the narrative of it as well, so it’s quite unique – you get to see the decision making evolve in real time alongside my genuine life.

If this is your last year as a comedian – & The Mumble hopes its not, by the way – what the hell are you gonna do instead?
If it is (which it may well be), I’d go to University to study Linguistics. From there, career paths are very varied – speech therapy, marketing, working with the police, all sorts! I may even end up in an entirely unrelated profession. I guess the short answer is, I don’t have a clue!

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
After Edinburgh, I’ll probably be starting at Cardiff University. I’m not 100% though. For now, I’m focusing on the show and making it as good as it can be.

Retirement Tour

BLT - Andrew White

Bath: March 27 @ St James’ Wine Vaults
Swindon: April 9 @ The Victoria
Bournemouth: May 3 @ Bournemouth Little Theatre
Brighton: May 4 @ The Caxton Arms
Liverpool: July 1 @ Hot Water Comedy Club, Seel St
Shaftesbury: July 6 @ Shaftesbury Arts Centre
Edinburgh: August 2-25 @ The Mash House, Cask Room

Glasgow’s Glee

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Glee Club, Glasgow
March 1st, 2019

As a long-time fan of Glasgow’s stand-up scene, I found myself pleasantly surprised when I attended the Friday Night Comedy show at the city’s recently opened venue The Glee Club. An established stand-up staple in Birmingham, Cardiff and Oxford, The Glee Club’s expansion to Glasgow provides an exciting opportunity that bridges the gap between the more intimate comic experiences exemplified by The Stand Comedy Club and larger, theatrical venues, a point made by legendary Glasgow comic Gary Little. Between generous pitchers of beer and snacking on my mate’s plate of nachos, I found the overall experience pretty impressive.

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Scott Gibson
The March 1st show was hosted by the effortlessly hilarious Scott Gibson, and featured (in sequential order) Rosco McLelland, Eleanor Tiernan and Ben Norris. Having seen Gibson killing it numerous times at The Stand, I found him to be a brilliant host, who masterfully whipped the crowd into a fury before each act with his grounded, self-deprecating comic wit. Gibson’s confident, reassuring demeanour also helped to remind his audience to be respectful to the incoming acts, while containing the enthusiasm of some rowdier elements of the show’s audience, a disciplinary edge that I’ve found unfortunately to be lost on many hosts. While hardly an easy task in such a large venue, Gibson exuded an excellent energy that continually drew the crowd in.

Rosco McLelland.jpgRosco McLelland
Rosco McLelland gave an energetic performance as the show’s opener, but his material paled in comparison to the elegance of Tiernan’s act and the vibrancy that Norris projected as the show’s headliner. Having seen McLelland do brilliantly in smaller rooms like The Stand, I felt his lukewarm performance was perhaps partly due to the sheer size of The Glee Club, but also possibly a natural reaction as a performer getting used to a new space. As a pathway between low-ceiling stand-up rooms and Apollo-like theatre spaces, I couldn’t help but feel that it’ll be harder for subtler acts to project their acts at The Glee Club as effectively as headliner performers. Showing moments of great comic insight, perhaps McLelland will feel more settled next time around.

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Eleanor Tiernan
Reflecting on the show’s final two acts, Eleanor Tiernan and Ben Norris dazzled the audience with their performances. In her effortless dalliance between more observational moments and socio-political commentary, she peppered her act with questions over the MeToo Movement, the difficulty of having a vagina (which she brilliantly compares to a piece of 1980s machinery that works, but is always leaking when you don’t expect it), and the role that women play in promoting a more nuanced understanding of female identity. While I have a particular leaning towards more socio-political comics, I have to say that, even in its lighter moments, Tiernan’s act was a delight to watch. Her appearance at Friday Night Comedy clearly illustrated her enviable talent as a headliner comic, and I really hope to see her again.

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Ben Norris
As the show’s main headliner, Ben Norris’ explosive stand-up routine made for a fantastic finish to the night, brimming with intelligent and penetrative observations on British culture and life as a father. Weaving his material with some brilliant moments of crowd-work, his deliciously confident, likeable energy lifted the show to new heights, and made for some fantastic moments of crowd-work with the crowd, particularly when he found himself struggling to understand sections of his predominantly Glaswegian audience. In one brilliant moment, after failing to understand a woman’s name in the front row (referencing her as “Laun” instead of “Lauren”), he developed this incomprehension into a clever joke on how much easier life must be in Glasgow when you just remove the middle of each word. Bringing a rock-star dynamism to the venue, Norris truly shone as the show’s headliner.

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Main Stage at Friday Night Comedy

Reviewing the club more broadly, one major strength I think The Glee Club will bring to the Glasgow comedy scene is its employment of security staff. Having seen numerous shows ruined beyond belief by hecklers, their subtle presence in the backdrop of the audience was a very welcome addition. I also felt that the show’s provision of food and pitchers balances well with the needs of the stand-up performances and in avoiding any possible disturbance it could cause to the shows. While I typically view the inclusion of food at a stand-up venue as a poor sign of the show’s management – a profit over performance indicator – The Glee Club pulls it off well, ensuring that people can order food and drinks at the bar while avoiding any tab system that could disrupt the flow of the acts while the food is being delivered. However, a small criticism I’d make about it would be the near-deafening preamble music played between the show’s breaks. Lasting between two-to-three minutes, the music was like a mixture between 1970s cinema advertising and the kind of thing that Michael Bay would use as the score for a space shoot-em-up. Rather than getting me pumped for the next act, it just left me irritated.


Overall however, Friday Night Comedy was an excellent showcasing of The Glee Club’s potential as a Glasgow stand-up venue. The playhouse size of the club offers the potential to accommodate a market between smaller and larger venues, and with that, to expand the range of opportunities for both audiences and performers. As comic Geoff Norcott commented on The Glee Club’s launch in Glasgow, the “showbiz staging” of the club gives it a certain cultural and commercial credit that makes it stand out from other arenas, noting, “it’s the one you invite the in-laws to if you want to convince them you’re doing alright.’ While I’ve noted that there are some negatives when compared with smaller venues, its positive reputation among British comics and audiences places The Glee Club in an enviable position to build a prominent platform for professional shows. I feel that as Friday Night Comedy continues, it will continue to tighten its line-up in a similar way to The Stand, and in doing so, will mark itself as an increasingly important comic hub in Glasgow.

James Nixon