Bryan bringing the comedy big boys to Buckshaw

Bryan Malcolm is bringing the Ha Ha Club back to Buckshaw Village
Bryan Malcolm is bringing the Ha Ha Club back to Buckshaw Village
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When many people decide to go to a comedy show, they imagine sitting in big arenas alongside thousands of people.

But top comedians sometimes choose other places to perform – like Buckshaw Village.

CHORLEY GUARDIAN - BIG INTERVIEW'Comedian Bryan Malcolm is bringing the Ha Ha Club back to Buckshaw Village Community Centre.

CHORLEY GUARDIAN - BIG INTERVIEW'Comedian Bryan Malcolm is bringing the Ha Ha Club back to Buckshaw Village Community Centre.

Bryan Malcolm started the Ha Ha Club at Buckshaw Village Community Centre four years ago, when his love of comedy inspired him to organise a comedy night.

Bryan, of Sunningdale Davie, Buckshaw Village, said: “I was a civil servant doing a business support job, but I decided to also run a few comedy shows in Buckshaw Village.

“I had done a few bands before. I liked organising things and I’m a closet project manager.

“Buckshaw is my home village and back then we had a lovely new community centre. It was desperately under-used.

“I booked some acts, sold some tickets and it took off.”

Despite a few hiccups – including Bryan forgetting to turn on the microphone at the beginning of the show – it proved to be a big success.

So when he was made redundant in 2011, he decided to concentrate on comedy full-time.

He said: “I had been doing comedy for only four or five months but I had built up a reputation for putting on good nights with good acts.

“It became a full-time job very quickly.

“It was never my intention.”

Bryan took his comedy nights on the road, holding them in any venue he could find, from the back rooms of pubs to race courses.

But while the venture was taking off, there were problems with the nights in Buckshaw.

He said: “At one time, we had 36 venues around the country. Sadly, not Buckshaw Village though.

“It’s a massive room, but it is also a sports hall with hard floors and hard walls.

“We hosted some big acts there – Milton Jones, Jon Richardson, Simon Evans.

“Unfortunately, as much as we tried, the echo in there was horrific and at the end of the day, we had to make a hard decision.

“I could get 150 in the room, but if the sound was not good then they were not getting their money’s worth.

“It was sad to leave Buckshaw. It was where we started off.”

But after taking his shows around the country, Bryan is finally bringing the Ha Ha Club back to Buckshaw Village.

Improvements have been made to the community centre which will mean the acoustics for shows are much better.

Bryan, 38, said: “If the acoustics were improved, I was always going to go back.”

The popular monthly event will be relaunched at 7.30pm on Saturday with comedians Justin Moorhouse, Gary Delaney and Lewis “Big Lou” Jones.

“I always said I would bring the best I could if we came back,” Bryan said.

“For £10, it’s a Comedy Store-quality and more line-up. It’s the kind of line-up you would see on the television, not in your community centre.”

And there is one more act on the bill – Bryan himself.

He said: “I started purely as a promoter and by seeing 30 or 40 comedians at work, I thought, ‘I could do that’.

“It’s not as easy as it looks, but sometimes it was forced on me, like if someone was running late.

“You can’t go up there and be Mr Boring, you have to say things to make people laugh.

“It will be the first time I’ve performed in front of people I know.

“My friends and my neighbours will be there.

“I’m excited about bringing the show back and about being part of the show myself. I’ve been recognised in the chippy because my face was on a poster.”

And although he is excited, Bryan admits he is nervous about the show too.

He said: “You are always nervous. There are going to be 210 people in the room if we sell all the tickets – we only have about 30 left.

“Whether it’s a tiny club with 20 people or your home town gig with a massive audience, you are nervous. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Bryan has been able to use his contacts on the comedy circuit to secure big-name acts for Saturday’s show.

He said: “A couple of people have contacted me asking if I really have Justin Moorhouse for a tenner.

“Through being part of the comedy circuit for four or five years, you pick up contacts and know people you can ask for someone special. It’s a bit of a coup.”

And he promises that having well-known faces at the show is not a one-off.

Bryan, a father-of-three, said: “We have John Thomson coming, we have Brendan Burns, and Nick Helm, star of recent BBC sitcom Uncle.

“It’s not just a one-off, it will be the big boys and girls all the time. It’s bringing whoever is funny and whoever is available.

“We will set the bar in March and at best we will equal it or maybe exceed it in future months.”

He added: “I have a queue of people wanting to play the shows. I don’t have to go out searching for acts – they come to me.

“I have some massive names who are more than likely to turn up at some point to do new material.

“We are talking big stadium acts and TV acts.”

It is unusual for big stars to perform in community centres, but Bryan believes it is important to take comedy to different places.

He said: “I make a point of never doing city centre gigs. The city centres are flooded.

“If I set up a gig in Manchester, I would be taking on the Frog And Bucket and Comedy Store and it’s pointless.

“It will dilute the crowd already established there.”

As well as making people laugh, Bryan hopes the return of the comedy nights will become a key attraction for residents in Buckshaw.

“There’s a joke in Buckshaw Village that there’s nothing to do, but it’s probably true. There’s very little in local entertainment.

“People can walk to this gig and there’s a licensed bar,” he said.

As well as relaunching the Ha Ha Club in Buckshaw Village, Bryan is continuing to organise shows elsewhere.

The comedy nights are held as far away as Suffolk, West Sussex and Carmarthenshire.

All sorts of venues are used, such as football grounds, pubs and theatres, and Bryan has comedy stages at festivals as well.

And Bryan has big plans.

He said: “If people have a venue, we will go to the venue.

“We don’t own bricks and mortar – that’s my ambition, to one day own a club.”

Bryan believes the reputation he has built up over the past four years will stand him in good stead to achieving his dream.

He said: “People in the comedy industry don’t say they work for the Ha Ha Club, they say they work for Bryan Malcolm.

“People associate me and my work ethics and my club as having a good audience and professional set-up.”

And it is clear that becoming a full-time comedy promoter was the right choice for Bryan.

He said: “I love it. I didn’t want it to be a hobby that I loved that turned into a job I didn’t, and so far, it’s a job I love.

“It’s very rare that you do a job that you love. My job is to watch comedy four or five nights a week.

“When I’m not watching comedy, I get to write it or perform it. What’s not to like?”

Limited tickets are still available for Saturday’s show, priced at £10.

To book your ticket, call Bryan on 07931 155887.