INTERVIEW: Stand Up & Mackem Laugh
By Chad Male on September 5, 2012 in Stage
Comedy in Sunderland has been a somewhat stagnant affair, with most national and international touring acts bypassing it for Newcastle. Steve explains, “If we have found out anything, it is that our Tyneside neighbours have no trouble attracting top acts at the drop of a hat. Mabz and I are still making great progress on a nice and steady approach to winning them round, and surprisingly enough once they get here they love it.”
SUAML has rather humble beginnings. Steve has been working with a community-based project in the city centre at Venue. “It was formerly a youth project that had fallen foul to the new Government cuts across the North East. It was in dire straits and in need of some serious fundraising. That’s where the comedy came into it. I had been promoting local bands for around two years previously and always like a new challenge, and fancied a go at comedy. The whole idea was for a one-off fundraiser to keep the club afloat. Mabz, an avid follower of stand-up comedy, won tickets to the show via a Newcastle radio station.
The night was a success; we got chatting and took the decision to make it a static venture. The next day SUAML was born. So you could say it was accidently on purpose.” So SUAML has a heart. It’s not there to make money, or rip off comedians, or create false hope for homegrown ones. They really do care, and have come from the bottom up. “We are Sunderland based promoters who hold events within Sunderland. Which really makes us Sunderland’s only comedy club.” Rather like a football manager managing his hometown team, or a pub where the landlord really is a local, the dynamics of it just seem right.
“You can see some great national acts as well as the local up and coming acts on the circuit, for a few quid, in an environment that is homely and inviting.” Even Mabz is keen to take on Sunderland’s very own comedy stage, confessing that he broke his ‘comedy cherry’ recently, and has found himself getting up on stage to entertain the masses for five minutes or so. Now that takes some balls.
“We want Mackem Laugh to be shown as a brand that has not just got a residency at one place”
Up next on Friday 7th September is their gig with award-winning North East favourite, Paul Tonkinson at The Place Café. He’s been seen and heard everywhere, from Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow to Comic Relief and XFM. He’s also a winner of Celebrity Come Dine With Me! “What made us choose Paul is that he’s a veteran of the circuit.” Says Mabz. “I remember him back in the days of the Big Breakfast before school…I just know it’ll be a comedy delight to have him come to Sunderland on a work in progress tour as there will be parts that may not be in his national tour.”
The boys decided to change location for this gig to ensure as many people get to see the event as possible. “We want Mackem Laugh to be shown as a brand that has not just got a residency at one place, and to be honest some of the venues in Sunderland aren’t being used to their full potential. The Place Café will be a fantastic venue that’s warm, intimate and modern.”
So what is it that sets SUAML apart from the crowd? “I would like to think that with the artists we’ve worked with, it comes across that me and Steve are both in it for the passion of giving something to Sunderland.” Says Mabz. “We have had some really nice and touching praise from people we have worked with, and we always make our artists and audience feel comfortable.”
Celebrating their first birthday in November (with Pat Monahan, Sara Pascoe and more scheduled to help them celebrate), it’s clear SUAML are on the right track.
- The Laughing Penguin – Not To Be Confused With Shite Jokes On The Back Of A Biscuit