What does Covid mean for the future of live Comedy?

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the comedy industry. Comedy clubs all over the world have been shut for almost a year. Most closed around March 2020. A few were open to a limited audience capacity before the current lock down, but is this sustainable?

The UK Comedy Industry.

Live Comedy Association (LCA) survey suggested an “industry in crisis”, with 77% of establishments saying they will close permanently within six months (August 2020).

Never before has the industry had such challenges. And unlike theatre, opera or visual arts, comedy is not supported by Arts Council England and does not receive funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Music, and Sport (DCMS).

The Culture Recovery Grant administered by the Arts Council of England has, however, been opened to comedy venues. Many clubs up and down the country have applied for the grant.

The Komedia in Brighton has been closed for months though their team is planning a soft socially distanced re-opening for later in the year, providing that the health guidelines don’t change.

The manager, Marina Kobler says, “Times are not easy at the moment but we’re hanging in there and are determined to ride out the storm.”

Big name acts got behind comedy clubs in Scotland. Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle made a plea to the Scottish government to provide funding to help the highly acclaimed ‘The Stand’ Comedy Club with some success.

The Grand in Clapham, London, opened back up in August and asked audiences not to laugh too loudly to discourage the airborne virus and instead to stamp feet or clap to show their appreciation (what fun!). This followed the UK Government guidelines advising indoor event organisers to keep audience noise at a minimum. Audience numbers have been curbed substantially and face masks are obligatory.

Comedy clubs already have tight profit margins so this will be an end for many. The hospitality industry has been hit hard too. Many pubs host regular comedy nights. As a few pubs slowly start to open their doors, the social distancing rules make it difficult for these comedy nights to resume any time soon.

And of course, if venues can’t open then comedians can’t work.

Loss of earnings for comedians

There has been a loss of earnings and lack of support for comedians on every level worldwide. In the UK, there was no furlough for comedians. There were a few grants but nothing substantial enough to cover the expensive rents/mortgages and everyday living expenses incurred here.

Bigger comedians had tour dates cancelled. Comedians often make their money from these tours, and the tour’s revenue often covered their living expenses for the following months. Many who don’t have large management companies and agents will have invested their own money in these tours.

Comedians earn their money from working the clubs and as previously there may have been bar work or waitressing work to fall back on, the closing of the hospitality industry has made this impossible. Comedians have had to adapt, and many have taken jobs as cleaners, retail assistants and couriers.

Apart from the financial aspect, comedians genuinely miss the stage time and many worry about being rusty on their return.

My own experience

I run several comedy nights in Brighton, England. These were the first things to be cancelled as the hospitality industry closed its doors. Pubs were already closing at a worrying rate. I dread seeing the hospitality landscape when this is over (or the disease infection is reduced to a manageable level).

So, all my comedy courses were cancelled. I had a beginner’s course with just two classes left to complete before graduating in front of a live audience. Their material and performance levels were in place to have a successful gig. They were gutted. Several of those students lost their jobs, and had to move back to the countries they’d grown up.

The impact that Covid has had on so many industries and individuals is shocking.

If there’s an upside

People found themselves with more time, to spend with family and to discover new skills. Baking was huge, and flour (like toilet rolls) were like gold dust.

I had my first book published How to Be a Comedian and Smash Your First Gig and then wrote the follow up, The New Comedians Handbook. I also had time to be interviewed by the BBC about the books. It’s unlikely that I would have found the time to achieve that goal while running a business and gigging.

There has also been plenty of opportunity to write new material. This is especially the case for comedians without home schooling, child minding and caring duties to contend with.

Comedians often complain that they struggle to find time to write. A gig is the perfect motivation to work towards, but comedians are an innovative bunch. Many are hosting Zoom meetings for fans, doing virtual gigs, producing podcasts, and writing books.

The outdoor gig and online comedy events have become a regular fixture in people’s lives.

Outdoor comedy has always been challenging. Keeping the atmosphere and focus on the stage and performer is generally more effective inside. In Britain, the weather doesn’t really lend itself to outdoor entertainment either. Noise outside can be as distracting for the audience as for the performer. Cars, motorbikes, ambulances, and noisy passers-by are all major distractions.

Online comedy gigs have received a varied response from audiences though the general feeling from comedians is that live comedy really needs a crowd for the interaction and atmosphere.

What is the future of stand-up comedy? Will the industry survive, and will it ever be the same?

I think YES. There will be casualties for sure. And it may be some way into the future before regular comedy nights return but people will always need a laugh and will always look to live comedy to provide it.

I’m confident we will laugh again, loudly and in person.

If you want to unlock your inner comedy genius, there’s the online comedy courses, interactive or module based, or there’s the beginners comedy course starting in Spring 2021, live and in person.


Happy 10th Birthday to Brighton Comedy Course

Happy 10th birthday to Brighton Comedy Course. It’s been a cracking 10 years. I’ve met some great people and I’ve seen people conquer their fear of Public Speaking and get up in front of a big audience and make them laugh.

Well done to all of you and thanks for coming on the courses, allowing me to work for myself and do what I love!

It’s been a right laugh, here’s to the next 10 years folks. 😄🎉🎁🎤

An interview with Louise Stevenson, Founder of Brighton Comedy Course


Member of the Week – Louise Stevenson

Meet Louise Stevenson, our northern Comedian-in-Chief, who teaches people to be more confident in front of an audience. Hello Louise!

Let start at the beginning, what is the origin story behind Brighton Comedy Course?

The business started in 2011 and I was teaching people specifically to be stand up comedians, and then a few years later we launched speakeasy coaching which is specifically to help people with public speaking.


And how do you teach people to be funny?

I think giving people tools and techniques that they’re able to have a look at, and getting them to come to workshops. The workshops are eight weeks, for the beginners course. So they practice every week, they have an opportunity to write every single week because they have homework. They learn techniques, they learn the theory behind comedy, they start watching stand up comedy and being a lot more analytical about what’s going on in front of them. Not just what the comedian’s saying, but what actions and other devices that the comedian’s using to bring the funny.

The first week is really about getting people to come out of their comfort zone, getting them comfortable enough to get up on stage for starters. It’s about getting them in that team mentality, that we’re all in it together and we’re all going to graduation and we’re all going to do a live gig at the end of the course. So that’s really the first step.

The comedy course is a great way for them to experiment with different styles of comedy. So in week 3 we look at 4 different genres of comedy; observation, one liners, improv and storytelling, which are probably the most popular styles of stand up comedy. So we look at the techniques, and then comedians start thinking about what style of comedy might suit them. The comedy course is really about experimenting with different styles of comedy, so that they know what they are, they can identify different styles of comedy and start seeing what works for them.

Have you always been confident in front of an audience?

Well I’ve been doing stand up for 20 years so I would hope so! I think the more you do it the more confident you get. I’ve got a gig on Saturday and I will still have nervous adrenaline, which is great, it’s excitement. You need that kind of nervous excitement to have a good gig. I would say I have more confidence 20 years later than I did in 1999, for sure, but I think that’s something that’s developed. The more you come out of your comfort zone, the more you become confident. I don’t think there’s any mystery to it.

Is there an event you are looking forward to attending at PLATF9RM?

The Cereal Filler that I am speaking at in January, I’m very excited for that! I’m also looking forward to an event I’m running in public speaking here in March or April, we’re just finalising the date. It’ll be really lovely to be able to run that for co-workers. So yeah I’m really looking forward to that.

If you could meet someone famous, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I’d say Kevin Bridges, because I would like to have a pint with him. And I’ve never worked with him, I have Frankie Boyle etcetera but I just never got round to working with him so.. Kevin Bridges for a pint, alive. If I had to pick someone dead, Nelson Madela would have been amazing to meet. Just how determined and inspirational he was.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Hmm. People not saying what they mean. So I find that in Scotland people are very direct. Whereas, for instance, when I’ve had sales jobs in the past, people would have you phoning back, and phoning back, but actually they’re not interested. There are nice ways to say things, but just being up front and saying what you mean, I wish people did it more.

And finally, what superpower do you wish you had ?

Being invisible! Don’t ask me why! Ha! I just think being able to have a nosy at big decisions that are being made would be great. But yeah, it just really appeals to my curiosity about people, where you could just be a fly on the wall kind of thing.

Thanks very much Louise.

Louise will be running a one-day workshop Pitch & Present, next Friday 17th in Brighton. You can book on


Launch of Workshops for working Comedians

I am super excited to announce the launch of the new Step Up your Stand Up Workshops.

These workshops are for comedians working the circuit, not exclusively for Brighton Comedy Course graduates. For any comedian who wants to stand back and check what’s working well & what needs work. There will be plenty of expert advice, the opportunity to write lots of new material and hopefully lots of laughs. With the prework and actions to work on throughout the year I think these workshops are going to be a big hit.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked to run regular workshops like these that will motivate comedians to keep improving and progressing after the Advanced course. I think these workshops will do well and I wish I’d had something similar when I was aiming towards bigger comedy achievements (in 2000 BC.)

Delighted that I’ll be able to work with so many Brighton comedy course students but also to see the mix and development of many comedians working the circuit.

If you’d like more info check out the Step up Your Stand Up page on our website.

Graduation is around the corner

So this funny lot hit the half way mark of their comedy journey this week. They’re getting stronger all the time and you would genuinely think that they’ve been doing stand up for quite a while.

They’re writing new material every week and getting up and sharing. There’s a lot of laughs and they’re bonding wonderfully.

The graduation is going to be a fun night. Come along and see what can be achieved on an 8 week comedy course. Its on Thursday 25th July @thefunkyfishclub in Brighton 7.30pm. Great night of comedy, always a great atmosphere.

Booking now for the last beginners course of the year, starting 1st October. 

Spring Events for Brighton Comedy Course

It’s been a very busy start to the year for Brighton Comedy Course. For the third year running the Beginners Comedy Course sold out. We moved to a lovely new premises, The Southern Belle in Hove, which as well as having a proper stage, also has its own PA system, great practice for our students.

This bunch are taking to the stage next Thursday the 11th of April at Funky Fish. They have worked hard and have had me laughing every week. They’re gonna be brilliant. Come along, or watch the graduation videos’s on Brighton Comedy Course You tube channel

We’ve booking for the next Beginners course on May 28th. There’s lots of comedy options coming up though for people who want to try comedy out.

Here’s what’s coming up. Drop me a line if you have any questions, otherwise I’ll see you at the Funky Fish next Thursday.

Is everyone funny?

So last week someone said to me, “You must get people who are really not funny on your comedy courses.”

I thought about it for a sec and replied “Actually I think everyone has a sense of humour on some level. We live in a witty country, our TV and social media is often centred on humour. I think the difference of someone being funny or not is confidence.

I remember having witty thoughts when I was younger and not quite having the confidence to share them in case it wasn’t funny and I was slagged off. It seems crazy now. Who cares if some of your ideas aren’t as funny as you thought? Who gives a shit! Keep sharing, and have faith in your own sense of humour.

I then had someone say “I thought I’d like to come on your stand up course though I don’t think I’d be any good.”

I think people rate their abilities on something they’ve never tried far too quickly and often, far too harshly. You won’t know until you try. Even if it turns out that you’re not the next Stand up sensation, it’s likely you’ll have a ball, meet new mates, learn methods to improve your public speaking skills forever and have an experience that you’ll never forget.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at the testimonies.




Can you teach someone how to be funny? Is that actually a skill you can learn? The team at Brighton Comedy Course say it is, and so I went along to find out just how funny I really am…

When I signed up for a taster course day with Brighton Comedy Course, it was honestly because I fancy being a comedian. I love showing off, and as a child I always imagined I would be famous one day. I had visions of myself singing to massive crowds, or taking a bow as the audience were on their feet roaring.Group photo 2

But it didn’t really work out for me. My forays into being in bands (too scared to sing / can’t play an instrument well enough), TV (too fat / not bubbly enough) or theatre (not a good actor) proved largely to be abortive. It turned out, apparently, that although I loved showing off, once you put me in a studio, or in front of a room full of other actors, the arse falls out of my confidence. Who knew?

One of the best things about being in your forties is not giving a monkeys about what other people think

Fast forward to now and things are different. One of the best things about being in your forties is not giving a monkeys about what other people think, and I don’t mind standing in front of a load of people and doing stuff. It’s a bit late though to be making it in Hollywood or killing it as a rock star, so I’d all but given up my dreams of performance fame. But recently I’ve done a fair bit of public speaking and I’ve got years of teaching under my belt, and I started to see another opportunity. Maybe I could do comedy, I thought. I make my students laugh, and trust me, there’s not a more critical audience in the world than a close-up group of teens who haven’t slept for days. Maybe this is my thing.

I think I’m funny. As in, I make people laugh, not have them laugh directly at me for being ridiculous. I tell myself that anyway and I hope I’m right. But it’s a bit different actually having to stand up and BE funny, rather than just win a round of banter, or play off someone else’s lines. Can I do that? Only one way to find out, Harrington-Lowe…

So I found myself one VERY wet and windy Saturday in a hotel room full of strangers, preparing stand up comedy material to perform in front of them. And you know what? It wasn’t as scary as I thought. Granted, it’s a very forgiving audience – everyone there is a bit terrified, and we’re all very supportive of each other. But I think I can honestly say I developed two very short routines that were actually funny in parts. People laughed! I caught the bug.

I have learned that I am a storyteller, not a gag merchant

The best bit about the day for me was learning how to identify, extract and develop the funny. The writing exercises, guided by tutor Louise Stevenson, were a revelation, and so were the delivery techniques tips. I have learned in a very short window that I am a storyteller, not a gag merchant. And that I rush through my material where I could slow down, develop the ideas further and extract way more laughs in the process. Not bad for a few hours work!

They also offer creative writing courses too, and the taster day was split into half comedy, half creative writing. I enjoyed that more than I thought I would too; creating drama and storylines, working with the others to put together characters and short plotlines. It was fun. I write a lot of factual content, and have always thought I had no imagination for fiction. But turns out I was wrong about that too.

class writing

Anyone who’s been on a team building day will know how this stuff works. Your inner child (and possibly outer adult) groans at the thought of enforced exercises and actually having to work with Other People. But as with team building, once you start it’s OK. You get involved, get stuck into the tasks and actually end up quite enjoying it. And this taster day was a bit like that. There’s also something very liberating about stripping yourself bare (metaphorically, obvs) in front of a room full of people and trying to make them laugh. I don’t mind telling you that my heart was racing and my mouth dry, even just walking up to the mic and trying to swagger a bit was nerve-racking. But ultimately, I absolutely loved it.

I loved it so much in fact, that I’ve booked myself on the full eight week stand up comedy course which starts next week (still some spaces left, details below), which culminates in a live show at a nightclub in Brighton. Yes, I’m actually going to be doing a stand up routine in public, in a club, in front of people.

I can’t wait to get started. The course kicks off next week at the Windmill, where Brighton Comedy also hold regular comedy nights on a Thursday, if you’re interested. I’ll be updating a bit as I go through the course, and may even reveal where my first big break will be held. But only if I think I’m funny enough. The rest of you will just have to imagine my majestic routine, and shower me with applause accordingly.

Brighton Comedy Courses 

Email Louise for more info HERE
Photos: Katariina Jarvinen


Meet the students of 2018

2018 class (2)

Here are our new students of 2018. Last night they wrote, edited and performed their first bit of material. A cracking bunch! The next 8 weeks are going to be fun.  They will be graduating in April. Come along and see how they get on.

Write, Stand-up & Deliver Event

On Saturday the 10th of February, we had the Write, Stand-up & deliver event at the Holiday Inn on Brighton’s seafront. This was a day for creatives who wanted to find out more about comedy and creative writing courses. The enthusiasm of the attendees was fantastic which made the day a lot of fun. Several decided to take the plunge and enrol on the next full courses.

There were helpful writing exercises to produce material, and without exception, each person applied themselves and brought the funny. Some proclaimed to be shy too! Just shows what a bit of encouragement can do.

The creative writing taster session had students scribbling with gusto. And things went from funny to surreal when people were paired up to set a scene from their individual characters. Sex and murder were common themes, ha ha, it was a Saturday. A thoroughly enjoyable day.  Well done to everyone who was involved.Group photo 2class writing