Jason John Whitehead hasn’t made an appearance at the Fringe for a whooping five years. In that time, he has set up shop in LA and embarked on globetrotting tours, conquering America and performing at a myriad of international comedy festivals.
Here he divulges all, on the best (…and worst) venues and audiences worldwide… and why Edinburgh will always be unique
I was in love with comedy clubs long before I even became a comedian. The atmosphere always spoke to me.
I guess I was never meant to be a clubber, a DJ, a raver, or any of the other late night identities you gravitate towards in your twenties. There was something about a great comedy club that had everything I wanted; conversation, entertainment and alcohol.
As I’ve grown up in the comedy scene, there are now certain destinations in my diary that I look forward to more than any others, and the main reason is because I can’t wait to walk back into that particular club. Some comedy clubs just have the right kind of mix.
Easily in my top five are comedy clubs like The Birmingham Glee which has the best green room and layout of any British Club, not to mention a killer taste in music being played in the breaks.
The Classic Comedy Club in Auckland, New Zealand has a well-placed bar that straddles the performance room and an outside bar so that the atmosphere can carry on after the show. It’s also got a killer balcony that allows comics to sneak out of the green room and get an amazing perspective on both the performer and the audience.
I love the Comedy Store in Australia because it’s one of the most modern table service venues you’ll ever see and probably the happiest audience on the planet as well.
Then of course the Comedy Store in London is a must because you can feel decades of comedy living in the walls. Not to mention once you get past the intimidation of it being ‘THE Comedy Store’ it’s one of the best rooms to play because it has a nice low ceiling and great sight lines.
My favourite club in the world however, for both professional and very personal reasons has to be The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh. It is the very club where I told my first ever joke from the stage. It’s the birthplace of my career.
Every time I descend those 7-8 steps from York Place into the bar I feel it in my soul. I’m home again. I get a rush of sentimentality that reminds me of the moments that lead to me being a comic. It’s like when you smell something that reminds you of your childhood, for those brief moments after you catch a whiff you’re transported to that moment in time.
There is a rickety street sign outside that reads ‘The Stand’ where I got a photo with my father back in the early days of my career. It was a night that my dad said “OK, I guess you can try to do this for a living. Your mother and I still think you’re crazy, but I’m very proud of you son. You were pretty funny up there”.
I’m sure some hipster has his eyes on that sign for his living room or malt shoppe, but I hope it stands there forever. It’s a lovely club with a great atmosphere too. It’s a small capacity club but when you get the regulars at the Stand laughing, they make the noise of ten clubs.
There’s a picture of a younger me in one of the corners. In some of the best comedy clubs you can spend hours looking at the candid photos of the comics who have graced their stage. It’s so much better than looking at stock head shots slapped next to each other like you’ll see at less imaginative clubs.
I’m so happy that over the course of my career, The Stand has expanded from the small boutique original in Edinburgh to larger scale clubs in Glasgow and Newcastle. They’ve taken the decor, attitude of the staff, and attention to detail that their original had with them.
They’re a prototype of what a great comedy club should be. No matter what your love for comedy is, all you need to do is walk in there and have a laugh. They’ve taken care of everything else.
Jason John Whitehead – Fool Disclosure, Liquid Room Annexe, 20:45 (21:40) 5th – 28th (Not 16, 23), tickets