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Lockdown is no barrel of laughs for Stoke Newington comedy club

PUBLISHED: 16:51 18 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:51 18 November 2020

Dave Green performing live. Picture: Edward Moore

Dave Green performing live. Picture: Edward Moore

Edshots

A Hackney comedy club host has spoken out about how lockdown is no barrel of laughs for the industry.

The Mildmay Club in Stoke Newington. Picture: Lauren DalyThe Mildmay Club in Stoke Newington. Picture: Lauren Daly

Stand up is “a bit of an addiction” for comedian Dave Green, and the national lockdowns have forced him to go cold turkey.

“It isn’t just the lack of income...we need to get out there in front of the audience,” he said. “You just miss that, quite simply.”

Even when events can go ahead, Green said the coronavirus restrictions “aren’t conducive to laughter”: “People should be wearing masks but it’s quite hard to hear them laughing when they are.”

READ MORE: Comedy club reopens with social distancing ‘to support the industry’

Many comedians have done gigs online during the pandemic, but not Dave: “I didn’t really fancy doing that myself, because I think stand up needs an audience. It doesn’t quite work online.

The Mildmay Club in Stoke Newington. Picture: Lauren DalyThe Mildmay Club in Stoke Newington. Picture: Lauren Daly

“Maybe that’s just me being an old stick-in-the-mud because other people try and make it work, but it’s no substitute for live performance.”

Dave was set to host Comedy@The Mildmay Club – a sold-out gig planned for November 13 – which was cancelled.

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The Mildmay Club had worked hard to make the building safe for staff and customers before the second lockdown came into force on November 5.

The Mildmay Club in Stoke Newington. Picture: Lauren DalyThe Mildmay Club in Stoke Newington. Picture: Lauren Daly

Committee member Tom Campbell said the closure is “devastating for the club in terms of our role as a community hub for local people and for our members”.

When open, The Mildmay Club offers bingo, darts and socialising for older generations, as well as events.

“We completely respect the need for the lockdown, and we are very mindful of the health and safety of our members, particularly as we’ve got a lot of older members,” Campbell said.

However, he added that “light relief and the opportunity to be entertained and socialised is needed more than ever”.

Government bailout funds have supported comedy venues, but The Mildmay Club does not qualify since it is a members’ club rather than an arts organisation.

Tom said the club was in “good financial health” at the beginning of the year. However, the pandemic has put the venue in a precarious financial position: “We have a need for urgent building repairs...but they are dependent on the club being able to raise enough revenue.

“The longer this goes on, the harder it makes it for us, but the club has been around for 130 years; we’re very resilient.”


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