It’s funny thing, comedy. What people relate to is so subjective, that standing up on stage and trying to make an entire audience laugh can seem a bit of a kamikaze mission. It’s for this reason that most new material gigs can be a little odd. Think a dingy back room in a dingy back street bar with a crowd of seven people, one of whom is asleep in his pint. Often less laughter than there is awkward silences, less places of mirth and joy than where dreams to go die.
But not at Suspiciously Cheap.
Billed on their website as ‘a mixed-bill comedy night that isn’t shit’, Suspiciously Cheap Comedy has become a firm favourite on the London comedy circuit. At Sketchfest in 2014, the award winning sketch group Gein’s Family Gift Shop met the equally wonderful, if slightly eccentric, actor/director duo, Goose. Their brainchild was a fun, affordable comedy night where acts could try new material and after approaching The Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green for a regular slot have never looked back.
They’ve since hosted heavyweights like Milton Jones and Greg Davies, and have been a big platform for newer acts like Emma Sidi. They regularly sell over 100 tickets almost as soon as they go on sale, and at their two year anniversary gig on Sunday reached their capacity of 300, so had to turn people away at the door.
Adam Drake and Ben Rowse from Goose are incredibly humble about how far their dream has come. “We knew we wanted to pay our acts well, and make it really cheap and low pressure,” they say, “then 80 people came to our first gig and we thought that was the biggest it would ever be.”
Talking to members of the audience it’s obvious that the friendly vibe is a massive draw. Resident MC Kiri Pritchard-McLean welcomes the audience with her ‘don’t be a dick’ speech, politely suggesting that you check your ego at the door, be friendly and supportive and just enjoy the night. Drake and Rowse back up this philosophy: “It’s a new material night, so some acts will do things to gigs of like five people first then bring them to us. Gein’s are fantastic, they always do completely brand new stuff, like they write it in the car on the way there.” Tellingly, “there hasn’t been an act yet that hasn’t had a good time.”
Looking forward it’s going to be a really exciting time for Suspiciously Cheap fans. They have a UK wide tour booked in Spring 2017, but Drake and Rowse are looking even further: “We’d like to tour in the US, we want to produce shows under the Suspiciously Cheap banner, maybe it would work for TV or a podcast, something that goes out there. Us and Gein’s are best friends so it doesn’t really feel like work.”
Suspiciously Cheap Comedy is exactly what it claims to be: the best acts, the best audience and the best night. They don’t invite reviews so as to encourage the acts to try out new stuff, but if they did it would definitely get five stars.
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