Islington comedy club reopens with social distancing ‘to support the industry’

The Bill Murray comedy pub in Islington.

The Bill Murray comedy pub in Islington. - Credit: Archant

An Islington club built “by comedians, for comedians” has reopened to socially distanced audiences.

The Bill Murray comedy pub in Islington.

The Bill Murray comedy pub in Islington. - Credit: Archant

The Bill Murray pub, part of Angel Comedy Club, has a range of comedians in its lineup of shows, including Stewart Lee, Sindhu Vee and Ed Gamble.

Award winning MC and co-founding comedian Barry Ferns, 39, explained that the opening shows last weekend sold out within minutes.

He said: “There is a huge appetite to see shows. Stewart Lee has been extremely generous and donated his fee to the club, which is struggling to survive the pandemic.”

READ MORE: Islington’s Angel Comedy needs donations to survive coronavirus pandemicThe reopened venue in Queen’s Head Street, Islington, will host eight shows a week as opposed to the regular 42.

Barry Ferns. Picture: Submitted by The Bill Murray

Barry Ferns. Picture: Submitted by The Bill Murray - Credit: Archant

Audiences will be seated in bubbles separated from other groups by plexiglass panes.

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Shows will operate at a third capacity, with audiences of 35 rather than the usual 75 to 100 people. Ticket prices have been kept low with the aim of keeping comedy accessible to all.

Those who are able to will be asked to donate on the night, as the shows are likely to lose money.

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Barry explained: “We are doing them purely to support the industry, those who want to watch live comedy and to give comedians a place to perform.

“Until the pandemic is over, we cannot make enough money. The Patreon page and crowdfunder is the only other way of bringing money in. We’re relying on that.”

The club has been running a “cup of tea” Patreon fundraising scheme to survive the pandemic, where 1,500 regular donors donate the cost of a cup of tea each month. The crowdfunder has raised more than £1,000.

“It’s very humbling to see the support and enthusiasm for the comedians and the people who run the place. There’s a lot of love for it,” said Barry.

The government’s £10,000 grant only covered the first seven weeks of expenses for the club, meaning it was forced to make two thirds of its staff redundant as the furlough scheme draws to a close.

“We had to let them go when we did so that we could pay their redundancies. We’re not the National Theatre, we have no reserves,” said Barry.

“It was really tough. We’re a family, we treat everyone well.”

Donate to the Patreon page here or the crowdfunder here.

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