The Comedy Store (London)
|Address||1a Oxendon Street|
|Owner||Don Ward and Peter Rosengard|
It was named after The Comedy Store club in the United States, which Rosengard had visited the previous year. Starting out above a strip club, in 1982 they moved to Leicester Square at a premises they were able to take over formally in 1985.
The club was the focus of the "alternative comedy" boom in the early 1980s and helped start the careers of many comedians, including Paul Merton, French & Saunders, Alexei Sayle, Craig Ferguson, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Ben Elton, Mark Thomas, Simon Pegg, Pat Condell and John Sparkes
In October 1985, an improvisational group called The Comedy Store Players was formed, consisting of Mike Myers, Neil Mullarkey, Kit Hollerbach, Dave Cohen and Paul Merton. The group has had several lineup changes over the years, and now features a rotating team of Neil Mullarkey, Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Richard Vranch (a comedy improviser who also plays piano), Jim Sweeney, Lee Simpson and Andy Smart, together with frequent guest appearances. Several of The Comedy Store Players appeared on the BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4 comedy game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
In 1990 The Cutting Edge satirical comedy team was formed by comedy journalist John Connor (formerly comedy editor at radical London listings magazine City Limits). The original team was Mark Thomas, Kevin Day, Bob Boyton, Nick Revill and Richard Morton. The shows aim was to recapture the political edge that was fostered at the original Comedy Store.
Comedian Paul Merton is one of the longest performing mainstream comics to still be associated with the venue from his debut performance in 1984. He presented a BBC 1 documentary, 25 Years of the Comedy Store - A Personal History by Paul Merton (11 January 2005).
The Comedy Store also has sister venues in Manchester (opened in 2000), and Bournemouth (2006). There was also a venue at the Merrion Centre in Leeds which opened in November 2003 but closed in June 2004. A sister venue also opened in Mumbai, India in 2010.