Years of Laughter: It’s Been a Mammoth 40 Years

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by John Connor |

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Last Monday night, I was strangely in the audience at London’s Comedy Store.

At a rough calculation, I have directed about 1,500 shows there, have been in the audience for maybe 20, and even have been on the stage a few times. One doesn’t count, as I was drunkenly inveigled by a “friend” to get on stage to do an open spot. It was a long time ago — these days you have to be an established circuit act to even get a free shot. I told a shaggy elephant story. No, it wasn’t about a mammoth, but it did go on and on.

Last Monday was the 40th anniversary of The Comedy Store, featuring a mega-bill. Many participants are now U.K. stars, which will mean nothing if you’re reading this in the States. The one American act was Rich Hall, who’s guested regularly on my show “The Cutting Edge” since he first came over here some 20 years ago. The character of Moe in “The Simpsons” was based on his gruff self!

The Comedy Store owner Don Ward with his first grandchild, Candice Ward, who if I lived long enough, probably would be my new boss. (Photo by Steve Best)

So, onto the party at the Café de Paris, which is handily just round the corner.

This posed a problem. It was built in 1924, and like The Store, it is underground. We do many jokes during terrorist outrages about being safe in a cellar. My show is old enough to look back to the days of the IRA fondly — they may have wanted independence from Britain, but they acted like gentlemen. They usually gave an old-fashioned warning. That’s very British!

As a listed (historical) building, there are no facilities for the disabled.

I spent the whole of last Saturday trying to see whether my functional electronic stimulation gizmo would help. I managed half a step, as the fatigue of setting it all up destroyed me for hours. Sensibly, I discarded this as an idea.

A steep flight of steps greeted me once I’d been rolled over the red carpet.

I knew the venue staff had been well-briefed and were full of confidence. But I’m now 17 stone (238 pounds) and don’t get to indulge in dangerous sports anymore. Four doormen picked me up and set off down the stairs at a rapid rate.

I shouldn’t have done it — but I spread my arms and shouted, “I’m Dumbo!”

The boys carrying me laughed, and this obviously made the enterprise even more dangerous.

Yes, but a laugh’s a laugh!

What a show! (Courtesy of The Comedy Store)


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gary varney avatar

gary varney

I love your stories.

John Connor avatar

John Connor



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