Chesterfield’s long-standing Spotlight Comedy Club celebrates its 11th birthday this month.
Ahead of its celebration show at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield, on Thursday, January 29, we spoke to its compere Anthony J. Brown:
Who have been the highlights of the past year at Spotlight?
The Ian D. Montfort Edinburgh festival preview was tremendous, which also featured the brilliant Lost Voice Guy, who recently scooped the BBC New Comedy Award. Other highlights included the splendid surrealist Seymour Mace, whose artwork takes pride of place in Chesterfield Coach Station and the soon-to-be-stratospheric Justin Moorhouse. Looking ahead I’m eagerly awaiting Lucy Beaumont, a former BBC New Comedy Award winner and star of Radio 4, who did her fourth ever gig at Spotlight a few years ago and Tom Wrigglesworth, star of his own Radio 4 shows and a Sony Award winner. Exciting times for the comedy fanciers of Chesterfield.
As club mastermind and compere, what have been your stand-out moments of the past 11 years?
Providing top drawer entertainment for the punters. I book the gigs and do so diligently, ensuring that the acts on the bill are compatible and offer a distinct sense of variety. I’ve been on many a bill where it seems the booker has just stuck a pin on a few names on the Chortle website which inevitably leads to a compromised evening as acts are too stylistically similar. It makes it particularly difficult for the closing act as through the eyes of the audience they aren’t bringing much original thinking to the event. Plus I’ve brought some cracking acts to Chesterfield. Sarah Millican, Reginald D. Hunter, Jason Manford, Alan Carr, Paul Sinha, Chris Ramsey, Lucy Porter, Justin Moorhouse, Shazia Mirza, Dave Spikey, Gary Delaney, Nathan Caton, Charlie Chuck, Henning Wehn, Richard Herring, Tom Wrigglesworth, Joe Lycett, Ivan Brackenbury, Jo Caulfield, Alfie Moore, Isy Suttie and Pete Firman have all graced the Spotlight stage. To name but a lot. And the ilustrious list will keep on growing.
Did you imagine when you first started this club that it would still be going strong more than a decade later?
No, it would have been breakdancing with destiny to have anticipated a couple of years, so to be ensconced into a second decade when the vast majority of clubs don’t survive past a year is most edifying. And justifiable.
I started Spotlight Comedy at the College Arts Centre in 2004, when that venue closed down I sidled over to the Winding Wheel in 2007. And we’ve been deliriously compatible bedfellows ever since. It feels fabulous for Spotlight Comedy to be 11 years old in Chesterfield. As far as the normal lifespan of comedy nights go in the UK that renders it eligible for a telegram from the Queen.
Who and what will make the 11th anniversary mirth fest so special?
Joe Lycett is our headline act and is a sublime comedic entity, fresh from a performance at Live at the Apollo. I gave him one of his first slots so it’s been delightful to witness his progression. He’s now something of a TV comedy staple with a slew of credits as well as a sought after performer all over the globe. The quirky, uplifting and hilarious Canadian Allyson June Smith is also appearing to provide a sliver of cosmopolitan panache.
In which other towns you put on comedy shows?
I run other shows in Huddersfield, Ilkley and Doncaster, plus a lovely new gig at Rotherham Civic Theatre which began last year and I am returning to the wonderful surroundings of The Fishpond in Matlock Bath in March (with Joe Lycett headlining that show as well). Other ventures are in the pipeline but I’m now too busy with my own gigging to actively pursue new clubs so I just wait to be approached and if the venue appeals I will take it on. I’ll only accept a gig that I’d be happy to perform at myself and accordingly I have garnered a reputation among my peers for running splendid shows, which is very satisfying as comedians can be a bitchy bunch. I know, I’m one of them.
What do you think it is about Chesterfield that makes people love their comedy so much?
They have impeccable taste.