FUNNY how things turn out.
Five years ago comedian Elliot J Huntley got a call from the Trinity Arts Centre asking if he would consider setting up a comedy club night.
Unbeknownst to them, Elliot, who lives in Sheffield, was born and brought up in Gainsborough and his parents still live on Garfield Street.
He jumped at the chance to get the people of his home town laughing and the Hoot Comedy Club was born.
“It was pure coincidence that they asked me, they had no idea I had any connections with Gainsborough,” said Elliot, 38, who comperes the monthly shows.
The fifth anniversary is being celebrated tonight (Thursday 12th April) when the bill will include Sully O’Sullivan and Andrew Watts.
Over the years Hoot has welcomed some now famous faces through its doors, most notably Pete Firman, who has gone on to TV fame in The Magicians and Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford, and Geordie Sarah Millican who never seems to be off the telly at the moment.
Elliot and business partner Anthony J Brown have been organising comedy clubs all over the country for many years and are pleased with the success of Hoot.
They were delighted that last month saw a record audience of 98.
Elliot said: “When you think it’s a 200-seater room on two tiers, that’s half the place full and it feels jam-packed when you’re in it.”
“It’s a really good atmosphere. The people in Gainsborough have always been really good with us, really supportive and very giving.”
“It’s a lovely room to play, I’ve only played in one other converted church.”
“When the acts arrive they are overwhelmed by the look of the place as they approach it. I’ve always been really proud to be associated with it.”
Elliot, who has three children, said that when they started Hoot he never dreamt that it would still be going strong after 60-plus shows.
With compering every month, he enjoys the challenge of having to come up with new material each time.
He said: “We have a loyal customer base and I know some of them by first name now, but that means I can’t re-tell jokes or they will be telling me they’ve heard them before.”
“I do little mandolin ditties and magic tricks and skits. I also tell fabricated stories about my life.”
“It’s difficult to do anything topical these days because with Twitter and mobile phones most jokes have already done the rounds and the audience have got to the punchline before you.”
Elliot went to Gainsborough Parish School and then the High School and worked in ‘proper’ jobs for a pension company and in advertising before turning to showbusiness.
“I decided a Sinatra tribute act would be my path to riches but I didn’t look like him or sound much like him either, so I turned to comedy instead.”
Elliot also writes biographies and has had books published about the lives of footballers Tony Currie and John Sheridan, and Beatle George Harrison, among others.
The Hoot Comedy Club starts at 8pm, tickets are £6 in advance and £7 on the door, more details from the Trinity box office on 01427 676655.