I struggled a bit with this particular blog. Seems a little counterintuitive given that live comedy is my very favourite thing in the whole wide world (except for having a beer and being a massive legend). Collecting my thoughts I couldn’t see past the need to justify why it is that live comedy is the best thing. I felt like I needed to prove that it is worthwhile - something nigh on impossible when also totally subjective, but I think we can all take it as read that comedy is excellent and enjoyable when done well. There is a much misquoted line that says writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Rings true about laughing too, I think. There’s an almost funny irony about writing about comedy - it is one of the least funny things to do in the world.
In as concise a way of expressing this as possible, I think there is worth in getting more ambitious about what laughter can do for us, and that - bear with me - led to the founding of Friendship Adventure. If that sounds pretentious, wait for the next sentence. Intuitively, there is an unspoken agreement that comedy is one of the things that helps us cope with the difficulties of living. Wooooooooo boy.
Think about it - we don’t laugh at things unless they cause very serious problems at other points in life. Comedy enables us to cope much better with our own follies and disappointments, our troubles around work and love and our difficulties enduring ourselves. Comedy is art and it is skill and it is hard and it is here and now and temporary and vibrant and beautiful.
There are crossovers between the beer scene and the comedy scene. It is, primarily, for pleasure. It is an evening activity. Bad versions of it are dreadful.
Friendship Adventure has a background in live comedy. Certainly we made people laugh when we said we were going to open a craft brewery. An example of an excellent joke there.The founders performed comedy badly (this is not modesty, this is the cold, hard truth) for several years before starting a comedy night that ran for nearly a decade. We care about where and why our beer is drunk, and with whom, just as much as we care about what we are drinking. Comedy (and music, come to think of it, but this blog doesn’t begin with an M does it so yes i take your point but pipe down) is a near perfect experience for a beer. Even the rooms beer is made and served in (large, low ceiling, a little down at heel) are good for live comedy.
There’s a curious alchemy that occurs when people gather specifically to laugh (or not - Naz Osmanoglu is our regular MC). There’s something about being in the same room with somebody, reading each other’s body language, too. It’s a communal thing, a release. Live audiences are a collection of complete strangers, checking each other’s responses. Can I laugh at this?
Comedy is more than just a pleasant way to pass an evening, humour more than something to amuse. They’re interwoven into the fabric of our everyday existence. Whether you’re sharing an amusing story down the pub, making a self-deprecating joke after someone pays you a compliment or telling a dark joke to pierce a difficult environment, humour is everywhere. Except on stage with me when I was a student, it turns out.
As an integral part of human interaction, humour has been on the minds of thinkers for centuries. As Peter McGraw and Joel Warner explain in their recent book, The Humor Code: A global search for what makes things funny, “Plato and Aristotle contemplated the meaning of comedy while laying the foundations of Western philosophy… Charles Darwin looked for the seeds of laughter in the joyful cries of tickled chimpanzees. Sigmund Freud sought the underlying motivations behind jokes in the nooks and crannies of our unconscious.”
In his recent book, Ha! The science of when we laugh and why, Scott Weems posits a theory: essentially, that humour is a form of psychological processing, a coping mechanism that helps people to deal with complex and contradictory messages, a “response to conflict and confusion in our brain” I’ve a pocket theory - composed mostly through conversation in the pub, aptly - that having a pint with a friend is equally cathartic and for much the same reason.
We have been running Comedy In a Brewery regularly for the last few years. Some of the brightest and best talent on the UK comedy scene join us, at a beer adjacent venue, for beer and comedy (although the beer is never mandatory, of course). There is more info on our event page, although it’s anyone’s guess when live comedy will be back.
The comedy industry has been ripped apart by the ‘rona - effectively it has just shut down, with no gigs or source of income for hundreds of hard working comedians. There is a relief fund - because support for this industry has fallen through the cracks here. Anything you can muster up - the price of a beer, or a gig ticket, much appreciated I am sure.
BONUS LISTICLE CLICKBAIT CONTENT:
Ten things that make everyone here at Friendship Adventure Towers laugh that border on the sublime:
Gene Wilder’s mastery of the comic pause.
Dudley Moore can’t keep it together as his best friend goes off on one.
Mitch Hedburg’s turn of phrase
More or less anything from Dylan Moran’s show Monster
Smack the Pony did a sketch about a house that had boobs
The consistent level of joke writing in 30 Rock
Ron Swanson’s pyramid of greatness
Eric playing all the right notes (or the way he riffed with John Lennon)
The dinner party episode of the American Office
Dave Chapelle talking about Michael Richard’s racism