Sunday, August 25, 2013

London Secret Comedy Club - A virgin's experience (read before you go)

Photo by Ardinnnn

I'm at a comedy club.

It's hard to believe but I have never been to a live comedy act after all these years in London. Well, it's not exactly true. I have been to Hammersmith Apollo to catch Russell Howard a few years ago because someone had spare tickets. It was a proper performance theatre, not exactly the comedy club type. But the acoustic was horrible to say the least. I wasn't able to catch half of what he said - it was in the early days and I had a problem handling the local accents. I decided that the only Hammersmith Apollo comedy acts that I am going to watch would be the ones on the BBC iPlayer replay - with subtitles of course.

Now here I am in the dingy basement of the Africa Centre just off Covent Garden. Having just bought the ticket an hour earlier on YPlan (a nifty app, more about that about later), I turn up to collect my ticket and the nonchalant guy at a makeshift counter points me to a side stairway.

It becomes clear why the venue was selected for a "secret" comedy club. The basement is one of those places where people get stoned drunk. There is a well stocked bar in a corner to facilitate that. The entire place is packed with plastic chairs with side benches to accommodate more.

The music is thumping loud. People have begun flocking in. The place is packed and room temperature is rising. I spy the fire exit at the far end. Three burly guys now sit in front of it. I bet the door is locked to begin with or opens up into a storeroom. Some are balancing jugs of beer through tight spaces while other put up with a pretence with bottles of wine and glasses to boot. I'm sure they'll be swigging from those bottles in no time. But the point is, people are starting to get drunk even before the host takes the stage. This is perfect, just perfect.

And the show starts!

The first act is late for a whole twenty minutes, which in the setting feels like an eternity, especially when I am there alone. The host hops onto the stage (a platform really) and starts to warm up the audience. Point noted: you can't be a normal guy and hope to make people laugh. Then again, we are in London - what's normal? The host, looks perpetually high starts prances around raising his arms exposing his sweat soaked armpits. I'm suddenly glad to know that I'm not the only one feeling the heat.

Show is on! The first guy proudly proclaims that he is gay, married a black who dyes his hair red. He starts hitting on all the guys up front. No religion or race is beyond boundaries. Second guy is of Nigerian descent and pushes all the right buttons for Nigerian stereotyped Tube platform staff. "Are you a performer?" he asked the guy in the front row. "Er, no..." "Then why do you have your feet on the stage, motherf**ker." came the swift rebuttal. You get the drift. Third is a Belgian Muslim - yep, all the angry Muslim jokes. The headline act is of Somalian decent and goes by the moniker of Prince Adil. Now, he brings down the house with his Brixton and Bollywood routines.

Two and the half hours of rude jokes, vulgarities and profanities later, it is over. I stumble onto the deserted streets of Covent Garden gasping for air. Would I subject myself to that again? I have never laughed so much in my life before, of course I would especially that's for just £8! Way cheaper than a theatre performance or movie. In fact, I got the tickets for another comedy club in Shoreditch on the YPlan app for the following night the moment I got home. This time for a mere fiver.

I'm addicted.

If you are looking for some last minute inspiration of what to do in London, check out the YPlan app. Enter the promotion code "kwoo" to get £7 credit after you have made your first booking (Disclaimer: that is my referral code so I get the same if you use it). It works only for new users though.

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