End of an era. RIP Jongleurs.

When I first moved to the UK it was one of the goals – as it was of many a comic – to play the Jongleurs Comedy clubs. I spent time in and out of the UK and never focused 100% on my comedy, so by the time I was booked to play them, they were not thriving like the ‘good old days’, but by no means an easy gig to play and it was still an honour to be a part of the ranks somewhat. I’m sad to see them go, not just for all the comedians who are still owed money, but for the uncertainty over future work for club comics who relied on gigs like this to get by and make a living. More and more with YouTube channels and creating your own content or finding your own audience, the club comics are having to learn new tricks to stay in the game. As much as I respect those who’ve managed to find their own audience without having to go down the club route, there’s still no greater thrill for me than to learn the craft on stage in front of a club audience.
I only got to play the club a handful of times across Scotland and England and it was by this stage the “McDonald’s chain of comedy clubs’ full of stag and hens and pretty sad, low attended nights of disinterested punters in run down looking 80’s style nightclubs and although the pay was good, it never paid my bills, so I’m certainly no veteran and can’t say I’ll miss them a great deal, but I do have on fond memory of Jongleursand that was when I was first booked.
I was once in Italy on holiday, my UK mobile phone rang. Normally I’d ignore this as it was on roaming and would cost an arm and a leg to take a call! But the name came up ‘Julia Chamberlain’. I answered immediately and my usual panicked response of “I’M ON ROAMING! EMAIL ME!!” changed, I took a deep breathe and answered as if there was not a care in the world. At this stage I’d never worked for the club professionally. I was living in Scotland and working doing 20’s at The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh and headlining other clubs around the country. I was making a living doing comedy. I was happy and had knocked back travelling to London to do 5’s and 10’s for Jongleurs and the Store because I was giving up paid work in the north. But when Julia called, you answered. I didn’t know her well but I respected and equally feared her. I was intimidated by her presence. Like any comic wanting approval, I wanted her to accept me into the books. She asked what I was up to, I casually replied that I was in Italy to which I recall she said I won’t keep you long. I said “no, not a bother at all” or something like that (I was literally counting the time and adding up how much the call was costing me and sweating). She asked if I’d like to MC in Camden next weekend. I knew the fee would easily cover this phone call, so I smiled and said yeah sure I can do that.
It won’t mean much to many of you, but a moment like that in a comedians career is memorable stepping stone and I’m glad I got to experience it, for better or worse, the club was a big part of the UK comedy circuit and I hope the likes of Punch Drunk and Manford’s can keep things moving in the right direction so as to give future guys and girls, and the veterans a place to work on good stages for punters who like a laugh.
You can watch YouTube all day long, but nothing beats live entertainment. #RIPJongleurs

Leave a Reply