Colourful, hedonistic and undeniably offbeat, Brighton is a gem on Britain’s southeast coast. A hub of live late-night entertainment and the haunt of cabaret, burlesque and drag artists, it’s home to something else too: laughter. Alongside raucous shows at Proud and have-a-go stand up at the Marlborough Pub and Theatre, it’s the city’s most beloved comedy club that garners the most giggles – Komedia.

For nearly 25 years the club has been tickling crowds with its roster of stand up, slapstick and slam nights and has claimed the Chortle gong for Britain’s Best Venue in the South a record 14 times. Talking to Komedia’s founder and director Colin Granger, he weighs in on what makes the club hit the mark: We’re by no means the biggest venue in Brighton, but since we opened our doors in 1994 we’ve certainly been the busiest one. We put on thousands of shows every year – a seven days a week, 52 weeks a year programme of comedy, cabaret, music, clubs, theatre, spoken word and children’s events. There’s something for everyone at Komedia and that’s made us, I believe, a genuinely popular venue.”

Komedia Venue Front ©Matthewandrews2013
Komedia lights up the night.

What’s on

Komedia is proud to present an arts and entertainment programme that’s as diverse as Brighton itself. The club has three resident comedy shows: Krater, Comic Boom (a monthly event with a top headliner and rising stars) and Bent Double – a gay-friendly night of fun and frolics’ compèred by stand-up comedian Zoe Lyons.

The Krater Comedy Club is our biggest event, on three nights a week, and is enormously important to Komedia” Colin tells us. Indeed, it’s this award-winning weekend show that attracts the big names on the circuit. Graham Norton, Jack Dee and Sacha Baron Cohen cut their teeth on this stage, going on to become some of the most famous faces in British entertainment.

Comedians have to be brilliant improvisers to make their material work. It’s this unpredictability that makes watching it live so exciting. Comedy on TV is always tame by comparison.
– Colin Granger

It’s also played host to (a young) League of Gentlemen, pub landlord Al Murray and even former Bake Off duo Mel & Sue. Coming up this year alone on the Krater stage are Mock the Week regular Ben Norris, funny man Adam Kay and The Scummy Mummies. As well as being a venue in its own right, Komedia takes its place every year as part of the Brighton Fringe, showcasing local acts and improv performances to the half a million visitors who pound the streets on the lookout for the next best thing.

From day-to-day, though, the ins and outs of managing a comedy club isn’t all fun and games. Running a comedy club is a bit of an art form,” Colin reveals. Getting 300 customers into a room, seated comfortably at tables and ready to enjoy their meal, their drinks and an evening of comedy with three different comedians and a compère is no mean feat. It has to be perfectly executed. I think we’re experts in this field, which is why Komedia has won Chortles Best Venue in the South award so many times.”

Compere With Mic
Kicking off with a compère.

Looking for: GSOH

When it comes to making people laugh, there’s no tried-and-true formula. With audience expectations always changing, new material being showcased every night and the looming spectre of a bad review, performers have their work cut out. Exactly what lessons do you learn from watching comedians trying to make people laugh every night? Just how unbelievably hard it is being a comedian,” says Colin. No matter how brilliant the comedian is the mood of the audience, the atmosphere in the room can change everything. Comedians have to be brilliant improvisers to make their material work. It’s this unpredictability that makes watching it live so exciting. Comedy on TV is always tame by comparison.”

Performers at Komedia draw on all sorts of creative themes to weave their set together and (hopefully) get some big laughs. In Brighton, that’s everything from the benefits of fancy dress to the downfalls of stag weekends. With so many comedic themes in play, we asked Colin for his take on the defining characteristics of British (and Brightonian) humour. An ability not to take ourselves too seriously! Brightonians are best at this of course because they live in Brighton…” he says. Actually, I think the defining British characteristic is class. We are the only people in the world (except maybe the Japanese) so affected by our class system. We can’t escape it and it crops up in comedy all the time. Maybe it’s an island thing. Though I’ve been to Japan and they didn’t make me laugh.”

Komedia Studio Tge C Cfaruolo
A glimpse inside the Komedia Studio.

A place for everyone

Brighton’s carefree vibe is what makes it an ideal haven for irreverent comedy. The seaside escape of the outrageous Prince Regent in the 1800s, who built the Taj Mahal-esque Pavilion and whiled away his days drinking and gambling with his hedonistic friends, it’s no wonder that Brighton’s heritage nods to eccentric folk, outlandish parties and a bohemian vibe. Today, the Queen of Watering Places’ (as coined by poet Horace Smith) is known and loved for its strong LGBT presence, progressive Green Party politics and everyone’s welcome’ mantra.

So what does Komedia mean to this all-inclusive community? Komedia is a welcoming place,” Colin tells us. This was our main aim when we founded the venue 23 years ago: that we would give a warm welcome to our customers, our performers and new members of staff. I believe that’s what’s made Komedia different and is the secret to our success.” And that’s all there is to it.

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