Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Rob Halden: Juice Comedy

(Photo from Stafford FM.com)

"The mark of any society is its culture and to have a thriving arts and culture section should be one of the key objectives of any town, village, city, country-  or any group of people together."

Juice Comedy is the brain child of comedy genius' Rob Halden and Neil Reading. The comedy club delivers a mix of established comics and exciting new talent to venues across Stafford and has recieved an overwhelming response from the public. After a hugely successful sell-out show in our very own MET Studio in Septermber, we caught up with co-founder, Rob Halden, to talk about his success and life on the comedy circuit.

Could you explain your journey to becoming a comedian?

I've always loved comedy, I’ve always been, modestly speaking, funny through school and university so it sort of became my defining point. People would say oh he’s the funny one. I wanted to try stand-up comedy but it  looked difficult and scary so I never went ahead with it. Neil Reading (co-promoter of Juice Comedy) and myself talked to the landlord of Joxer Brady’s about putting on a comedy night on a Monday night. It was an open mic night and the only people we had on the list to perform were myself and Neil, I suppose it went from there. We ran those nights once a month, it took me a long time to find my comedy voice, its only been in the last year and a half that I’ve found what I want to do in terms of performing and I’ve taken that to different venues such as The Frog and Bucket, The Comedy Store in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
So you have a real passion for comedy then?
Absolutely. I’ve got a passion for comedy but specificly a passion for stand-up comedy and new comedians, I’m passionate about giving comedians the space to perform and try things out. In the industry the only thing available for new comedians are these competitions called Gong Shows where you have to impress an audience and if they don’t like you, they gong you off. So the audience is in control and these are very combat like situations- if they don’t like you they hurl abuse and you leave the stage. That’s obviously entertaining for the audience but as a new comedian it doesn’t provide you any space to breath or learn the craft. So I’m passionate about new comedy and also bringing new acts to Stafford- Stafford has a very good comedy scene.
Describe your comedy style in three words…
Strange, deadpan and vicious.
What were your visions for Juice Comedy when you first started developing it?
It was just a case of no real comedy nights in Stafford. The Surgery had stopped running their comedy nights so aside from the big names at The Gatehouse there was no regular comedy night or club. So it was really just to see if we could bring regular comedy to Stafford and if we could keep it going.
Who worked with you to create it?
Neil Reading- the founder and myself. Joxer Brady’s over the three landlords they’ve had, every one of them has been supportive and let us carry on being silly. In the beginning it was a bit of a risk and a gamble, just two lads messing around once a month, so a big thanks to them for being so supportive.
What are the most essential elements to making a great comedy show?
First and foremost, funny comedians. A receptive and warm audience- I play a lot of gigs where there’s a stand offish nature, arms folded- show us why you’re funny, people that haven’t perhaps relaxed enough, so a receptive audience is really key. I like a mix of comedians, you wouldn’t want four one-liners, four deadpan or four prop comedians. But also there’s a je ne sais quoi to a room and The MET Studio here is one of the best rooms for comedy, I mean I’ve played The Standard in Edinburgh and The Comedy Store in London and Manchester and they’re just not as good. The MET has a nice working relationship with the stage, the audience and the comedians.
The last juice night at The MET Studio sold out, why do you think it was so successful?
Because I’m so brilliant [laughs]. Eight years of slogging away, building up a name, we did some nice little viral videos. Pounding the pavements, handing out flyers, I think we’re at a stage where we’ve got a name locally, if you’re interest in comedy then you’ll probably know about us. Great line ups help too, we’ve had Stephen Carlin, Phil Walker- Roy Walker’s son and so on. We're at a 50% ticket sell for the February gig so that’s great.
How did it come about that the Juice night would be in The MET Studio?
Its always been my intention to one day, hopefully, put on a show at The Gatehouse. When I went along and saw the regular comedy nights at The MET and saw how good they were I started looking at putting a show on there. Playing to such a capacity in the main theatre, over 500, is a huge amount, and it’s a lot of seats to fill without big names on the bill and even if you half sell it, a half sold theatre is not good for comedy.  Once I went to The MET and saw how engaged it was- being right up there with the comedian in terms of proximity, it looked like a realistic opportunity.
What do you think the future holds for Juice comedy and the arts industry in general in view of the second recession expected this year?
The mark of any society is its culture and to have a thriving arts and culture section should be one of the key objectives of any town, village, city, country-  or any group of people together. I think with the continuing success of comedy at the MET and with other venues were expanding to, I see only good things. Any recession does affect people but I’ve not noticed a drop off in attendance figures in any of our shows. I don’t think you should reduce your ambitions or limit you horizons just because your having a hard time- if anything you should push through. Certain things are always recession proof, people always have some money for a fish and chip dinner, a night at the cinema, a DVD or a night out- people want to enjoy themselves.
What are your plans for the future for Juice Comedy and yourself as a comedian?
Well I’ve just inked a deal with The Gatehouse to perform myself at The MET Studio for the first time with another guy- I don’t usually perform in Stafford I’m usually all over the country. A lot of people in Stafford keep asking- where can I see YOU? The chap I’m performing with, Tom Allsop, who's Cannock based, gets asked that question too. I’ve already booked the acts for the September Juice and some other venues interested in the night too. I’m doing a lot more writing recently for East Midlands advertising companies and hopefully getting a radio sitcom and I’ve got a comedy radio show on Stafford FM. Lots going on- I’m very tired basically [laughs].
Can you recommend any exciting new comedy talent?
Gary Delaney who I know has played The Gatehouse, he’s one of the top comedians in the country today- he’s phenomenal. Johnny Sorrow who is interesting to say the least, he won a prestigious award at the Edinburgh Festival called the Malcolm Hardee award for comic originality, it’s not for your standard jokes about things I’ve seen in the paper recently. He’s a very peculiar, interesting and talented performer, hopefully I'll be able to do something with him in the future. Phil Pagett is probably the best joke writer in the country for razor sharp gags and one-liners. There’s loads of really good comedy, especially in the West Midlands, it’s about paying attention and perhaps throwing yourself into evenings where you’re not sure if you'll what you’re going to see.


'Juice Comedy Night' is on Fri 3rd February 2012 at The MET Studio, Stafford Gatehouse. 

Book tickets

Juice Comedy Official

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.