The Comedy Lounge extends to Sundays
Brilliant Sydney-based Monday evening laughfest, The Comedy Lounge, is extending its hours. We spoke to its founder, Rhys Jones, to get the lowdown:
Hello Rhys. You’re here to talk to us about the the Comedy Lounge shows you’ve got coming up over the next few Sunday nights. Wait.. Sunday nights? Isn’t the Comedy Lounge usually on a Monday night?
Our Monday shows are popular and well established now and have been running for three-and-a-half years, myself and the management at Cafe Lounge were keen to expand The Comedy Lounge to another night. Sundays are generally quiet at the venue and, after a few one-off Sunday comedy events that were a success, we decided to produce a run of shows that will piggy back on the success of the Monday.
Is it the same format as the Monday ones? Any key differences?
Mondays have a gala feel, are highly curated, Sundays are designed to be a shorter show, just as fun, but essentially have either an emphasis on established acts trying new material or new acts that we haven’t seen before jumping up. Additionally, I want the night to be available for established acts to run through their festival shows or hour specials. So week-to-week the Sunday is billed as a ‘Short and Sharp’ night (new material, slightly experimental, but obviously still funny), or (as we have in March) specific established pro’s essentially doing their festival shows prior to touring them.
Can you give us a bit of a history lesson about how The Comedy Lounge came to be?
I’d been involved in Sydney’s open mic comedy scene for a while and the management at Cafe Lounge changed, I met with the new owners one of whom I’d known for a while, and they wanted to start a comedy night. I suggested Mondays as it was the only day of the week when the bar was shut, they were apprehensive at first but after about 6 to 8 months and a lot of hard work and careful planning it had become clear that we’d created what has become one of Australia’s best independent comedy rooms. The venue is perfect for a stand up show, low ceiling, kitsch decor and a great stage set up. It works really well. By and large we are full every week and the audience arrive ready to laugh!
Who are you especially looking forward to seeing at your upcoming nights?
Wow, well every week I look forward to our shows! The month of Sundays I have booked are looking rather splendid. Neel Kolhatkar, who is one of Australia’s best young comics (and a YouTube star) hosts our last Short and Sharp for a while before we move into the festival previews, Cam Knight and Daniel Townes destroy here whenever they are on as headliners and their festival shows will be brilliant. The week we have Ray Badran and Luke Heggie as a double bill. It will be killer value for money. Ray and Luke’s styles offer a nice contrast. Ray is absurd & silly, Luke is acerbic, dry and has a word-to-laugh ratio that most comedians would die for. On the Mondays John Cruckshank’s headline spot will crush, when he’s on the crowd hang on his every word. I expect big things from this guy in 2015!
Who would you most like to have come and do a turn at the Comedy Lounge?
Well, of course I tried to get in touch with Bill Burr and Louis CK when they were out to no avail, such pre-madonnas! We have been lucky to have a few top drop ins besides though, Will Anderson came to one of our first Sunday shows, and another of my favourite American comics Amy Schumer swung by when she was here on holiday, she’s amazing. I’m a massive Daniel Kitson fan and I have approached him about hosting a charity gala when he is next out, but we’ll see.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a stand-up?
Go to watch live comedy, soak it up, go to open mics (Mug & Kettle, POS comedy are sign up nights) get an idea of what other people are doing, write and prepare, show the craft of stand up some respect and then DO IT! Getting rid of nervous ticks and stage / mic technique only come with stage time, but if you get on stage with only a very loose idea of what you are going to talk about it’s obvious and the results are often painful to watch except for evil people like me who love the almost tangible awkwardness of it (as long as it’s not at my nights!).
Do you have slots available at your events for newcomers?
When I do the short and Sharp Sundays I will have two spots a week for newbies I have never met. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and then I allocate dates.
There are probably a few people reading this who have yet to check out live comedy. What would you say to them to encourage them to head along to the Comedy Lounge?
Our shows are dead cheap ($10/8 concessions) and some of the Sunday shows are only $5 to get in. You will be amazed at the talent pool that exists in Sydney. There are a lot of funny people in Australia that you would not have heard of. It really is a no-brainer. Get out of the house, pay a paltry sum, have a few beers and laugh. It’s such a fun night out. I’m encouraged week-to-week at the amount of young people we see at our shows, the 16 to 25 age group is always well represented which pisses all over the stereotypes often associated with allegedly apathetic gen y or z (if that’s a thing!).
Interview by Bobby Townsend.