A new year round comedy club in Edinburgh, based on Rose Street in the New Town, will be hosting its first festival programme this August, and as part of that the club’s promoters will be staging the final of the Massive Comedy Gong Show, a new talent contest that has been running there since last December.
Run by Fringe regular Jojo Sutherland and her other half Allan Donaldson, The Shack Comedy Club opened its doors last October. The Gong Show new talent night was created by Donaldson and compere Chris Conroy two months later, to spice up the customary open mic night format; perhaps with a little nod to ‘X-Factor’-style telly talent shows in the way acts are rated, and maybe even to the Bear Pit Cabaret of Fringes long gone, in making the stand-up contest a bit more edgy.
Donaldson explains: “Each act has a target of spending five minutes on stage. But audience members have cards, and if more than three get held up, the comedian is gonged off. If one card goes up, that’s fine. Two cards, still fine. But when the third card goes up, we gong them off, and tell them to have a rethink about their act”.
Explaining where the idea for the night came from, he continues: “There are plenty of new act nights that run across Scotland, but none where the acts get instant feedback as to whether or not a set or piece of material is actually any good. So too many acts plod along with the same routines without ever asking ‘am i funny?’ What we have tried to do is foster a night with an edge, so that when the acts go to other gigs around the country they are better prepared to deal with weird and wonderful situations. We initially just wanted to see if the format would work, and it has every Thursday since January! And its produced some fantastic acts already”.
Acts that have successfully made it through past Gong Shows at The Shack have been invited to appear at two semi-final events taking place at the venue this month (19 and 26 Jul). The winners of those shows will then go through to a grand final right at the end of the Fringe, on 26 Aug. At these shows audience members and, at the final, plenty of comedy industry people too, will vote for their favourite comedians in a more conventional fashion.
For details about the Gong Show and info on the rest of The Shack’s Fringe programme check www.theshackedinburgh.co.uk