Andrew Dipper

John Bishop: “Newcastle Stand is what a comedy club should be.”

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John Bishop | Giggle Beats

Bishop (pictured) played the Newcastle Stand in July.

John Bishop has heaped praise on the Newcastle Stand today – as the comedy club celebrates its first birthday on Tyneside.

The 300 capacity venue, situated on High Bridge, officially opened to the public a year ago, aiming to be the first North East club to operate seven nights a week.

And Bishop, who visited the Stand for a work-in-progress show back in July, says the club “hits the target” when it comes to comedy.

He said: “The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle is great. It has a brilliant atmosphere, great staff and – when I did it as part of my tour warm up – I almost wished I lived in Newcastle so I could gig there every week…almost!”

Bishop added: “Seriously, it’s what a comedy club should be and more.”

The Stand Comedy Club began life in August 1995 in the basement of an Edinburgh pub. The experiment worked well enough to try a regular event, and The Stand ran its first regular club night on Thursday 21st September 1995: seven people came and the total box office was £22.

The Glasgow Stand followed in 2000, the basement of a former secondary school in the city’s west end converted into a comedy club.

And finally to Tyneside. The Newcastle Stand was ten years in the making – but director Tommy Shepherd believes it was worth the wait.

He said: “[We’d] been trying to open in Newcastle for years but could never find the right venue. For us, Newcastle and Tyne & Wear in general is the next biggest population centre to where we are based in Edinburgh and Glasgow.”

“We’re aimed at people who enjoy the spontaneity of live stand up, and we hope we’ve brought something different to the local comedy scene.”

And that they have.

In its first year on Tyneside, the Newcastle Stand has given local stand-ups a supportive platform to reveal their more creative side. Gavin Webster, Simon Donald and Hebburn’s Steffen Peddie all host their own shows, and with that licence to road test new and exciting ways to make people laugh.

Red Raw, the Stand’s beginner and new material night, regularly draws 200+ crowds keen to see comedians develop and flourish.

And the club is also responsible for attracting the likes of Stewart Lee, Sarah Millican and Chris Ramsey to one of Tyneside’s cosier rooms – all of whom have followed Bishop in praising the venue.

Lee, who performed at the Newcastle Stand in July, said: “The Stand in Newcastle have taken the same smart and sassy comedy programing, tasty menu, and cannibalised industrial space aesthetic south with brilliant results. The ‘Southern Stand’ has trained up its audience to appreciate the good stuff just as successfully as they already have north of the border.”

“The Newcastle Stand has great comedy, friendly staff and a thoroughly pleasant atmosphere,” commented Millican. “The perfect combination. I always look forward to playing there.”

While Ramsey, who is currently starring in BBC2 sitcom Hebburn, said: “The Stand Comedy Club was exactly what the North East needed; a purpose build, professionally ran, comedy-specific venue.

“I love it.”

Tickets for tonight’s birthday show are still available. For more information on the Newcastle Stand, see: