Tomorrow is the first Frog and Bucket comedy night at the Guild Hall, and AASMA DAY talks with Katie Mulgrew, one of the comics out to kickstart a new era of mirth in the city
Do you know which way to put your wellies on or do you still have to label them left and right?
Rolling her eyes in comical exasperation, Katie Mulgrew says despite the fact she is almost 30, she still gets teased mercilessly by her friends as her comedian – and LEP columnist – dad Jimmy Cricket is renowned for his trademark outfit including wellies ‘L’ and ‘R’ for left and right but worn on the wrong feet.
Katie, 29, who is married to Lee, 37, and now lives in Manchester, says growing up with her parents, two brothers and a sister in Rochdale was a hoot and she had an extremely happy childhood.
Katie explains: “We grew up in a very nurturing environment as both my mum and dad were very encouraging parents.
“It was also a fun environment to grow up in.
“My dad never switches off. The man on stage is just a heightened version of who he really is.
“When we were growing up, he never turned off the comedy and there were constant puns at the dinner table – and there still are today.
“I probably groaned at times when I was younger, but now I just love it.
“I still get jokes from all my friends now even though I am nearly 30 about putting left and right on my wellies!”
Despite growing up with comedy all her life, Katie says she did not really entertain the idea of becoming a stand-up comedian herself until she was at university.
She was working behind the bar at a comedy club in Manchester when she suddenly thought: “I’d like to have a go at that.”
Katie recalls: “With my dad being Jimmy Cricket, I grew up with comedy and it was always at the back of my mind that it was something I would like to do myself.
“However, I grew up with a very specific kind of comedy and I did not think I could do that myself.
“It was only when I was working at the comedy club and was exposed to so many different types of comedy that I realised I could have a go at it too.
“I was absolutely terrified at the thought of getting up on stage and performing comedy in front of people, but I thought I would do it once to see what it was like.
“Then I became hooked and got the bug.”
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing and like all comedians, Katie soon realised you have to develop a tough skin if you go into the business – not everyone will find you funny and some nights don’t go as well as others.
She explains: “I was about 21 when I did my first stand-up and it went surprisingly well.
“This gave me a false sense of security and made me think: ‘I must be really good at this – everyone finds me funny.
“However, I then did my second comedy night and it was absolutely awful. I died a spectacular death on stage which brought me back to reality.
“After that, it was hit and miss for a while. And then suddenly, you start getting more hits than misses so you know you must be doing something right.”
Now, after performing stand-up for the best part of a decade, Katie is well known on the circuit and gigs in comedy clubs all over the country.
She was dismayed when she heard the Frog and Bucket comedy club on Lord’s Walk in Preston was closing.
However, she is now full of elation that the new owner of Preston Guild Hall Simon Rigby saved the comedy night and is now resurrecting the Frog and Bucket format – still in Preston, but at a different venue just a stone’s throw from its former home.
Katie says: “I was incredibly sad when I heard about the Preston Frog and Bucket closing.
“When you first start out in stand-up, you do one night stints at places and your goal is to do a weekend which is where you are booked at the same venue for a Friday night and a Saturday night.
“The Frog and Bucket in Preston was where I did my first ever comedy weekend so I have fond memories of the place.
“It was such a shame when the Frog and Bucket Preston closed as the comedy nights there were great.
“I had some of my favourite nights compering there – especially at the Wednesday night Beat The Frog night, which was the gong style show where anybody could get up and have a go at stand-up.
“People would really get behind the acts on these nights and there was a great atmosphere.
“It was one of those nights where anything could happen.
“These nights would consist of mostly a student crowd and were great fun.
“I remember one particular night when the audience told me they would get me drunk and different people kept buying me jagerbombs!
“The Beat The Frog nights were also a great place for comedians to try out new material.
“Preston comedian Dan Nightingale did a Podcast for comedians asking them where their favourite venue to gig was, and so many people said the Frog and Bucket in Preston.
“After the sad news about the Frog and Bucket closing it was great to hear the Guild Hall had decided to keep the comedy night alive in Preston.
“This is wonderful as the audiences in Preston are so up for it and love comedy so it would have been a shame if there was nothing. It will be at a different venue but will have the same people behind it and the same quality of acts. So hopefully it will be just as successful.
“Hopefully, this new Frog and Bucket night at the Guild Hall will have the same ethos and support from the audience and will go from strength to strength.”
In a complete coincidence, Katie will be one of the comics kickstarting the Guild Hall Frog and Bucket nights at the same venue where her dad Jimmy Cricket will be performing in pantomime.
Katie says: “What my dad does is brilliant and he is pretty inspirational. However, we are such different comedians.
“He has been doing what he does for 40 years and still loves it. If I can have a career half as good as his, I will be happy.
“It is completely coincidental that I am one of the comedians kickstarting the Frog and Bucket nights at the Guild Hall and my dad will be doing panto at the venue’s Charter Theatre.
“Usually, our paths never cross.
“However, my comedy show and the pantomime will be completely different shows. So don’t get them mixed up and end up at the wrong night!
“I really hope that all the people who used to go to the Frog and Bucket in Preston will come down to the new night tomorrow and enjoy the same great night they had.
“The more support we can get for this night in Preston, the better it will be for Preston.”
l See Katie perform at the Guild Hall foyer tomorrow night together with Phil Ellis, Danny McLoughlin and John Lynn.
For more information or to book online, visit www.prestonguildhall.com or call 01772 804444.
Tickets £15, concs £13. Strictly 18+, no refunds.
How The Frog hopped it
Preston Guild Hall is the new home of the Frog and Bucket club and bosses hope to hold a regular night around once a month.
The venue currently hosts one-off comedy gigs in the Grand Hall and Charter Theatre with most comedy shows being sell outs including Jon Richardson and Dave Gorman.
Just this week, it has been announced that Alan Carr will bring his 2015 tour Yap, Yap, Yap! to Preston Guild Hall
With the expertise from the Frog and Bucket team, the Guild Hall is hoping the regular nights in the intimate Grand Hall Foyer will be a hit.
A spokesman says: “Hosting the event in the foyer means we can maintain the laid back club style atmosphere that made the Frog and Bucket.
“It is the perfect setting for up and coming acts with its cabaret style set-up - and access to the bars.”
The first night tomorrow will see Phil Ellis, Danny McLoughlin, Katie Mulgrew and John Lynn cross the stage and it will take the format of the Barrel of Laughs nights with one MC through the evening and three comics.
There are already two dates pencilled in for December and January with the hope to continue the partnership throughout the year and beyond.