Comedian Jason Manford might be spending his evenings on Wearside this week as he leads the cast of The Producers at the Sunderland Empire.
But he took time out on Thursday lunchtime to travel through to Tyneside for a visit to The Terrace bar in Newcastle - the latest venue to sign up to the Manfords Comedy Clubs network.
Last month it was announced that Jason and his brother Colin, who is also a stand up comic, would be taking over responsibility for the comedy offer from The Hyena in Newcastle, when the long standing club moved venues.
The Terrace, which is attached to St James’ Park, was chosen as a suitable new space for top quality Friday and Saturday night comedy line ups, and Manfords have already enjoyed their first couple of weekends in their newest home.
But although Colin took to the stage on the first night, Jason’s touring commitments with The Producers has meant he hasn’t been able to visit until now.
“I’m sure I’ll be performing at some point over the summer though,” said Jason, who is currently receiving rave reviews for his performance as Leo Bloom in the stage production of Mel Brooks’ legendary 1968 film.
“Me and my brother started the comedy club just over a year ago because we wanted to provide clubs where comedians on the circuit - and audiences - were treated well, because that doesn’t always happen.
“We wanted to provide quality comics on the bill and good venues for them to work in.”
And it seems to have worked.
“We’ve got clubs all over from deep in the south up to Preston and Leeds,” he continued. “But we’d kind of left Newcastle alone because we knew you had The Stand and The Hyena.
“Then when Della (Haq, who was running the Hyena’s comedy nights) got in touch and we found out the Hyena’s owners were taking the venue in a different direction and the comedy nights were moving, we thought it was a great opportunity to come up to the North East. It was a no brainer really.”
Jason, who played the Hyena countless times before he graduated from the circuit to playing his own sold out headline tours, said he’s delighted to have a Manfords in the North East.
“It’s fantastic up here. I’ve played all over from the clubs to the arena. Last time I played Newcastle City Hall it was like being in a double act with the audience. I came away from that gig with about 10 minutes of new material.
“The last time I played The Hyena, I was compering and Michael McIntyre was the headliner. That kind of reinforces the importance of having good comedy clubs on the circuit. Comics need good clubs to play so they can develop, and who knows where they’ll end up.”
Manfords at The Terrace in Newcastle is open on Friday and Saturday nights. This weekend’s line up includes Ray Bradshaw, Richard Massara and Mickey Sharma. For full details and booking, visit www.manfordscomedyclub.com/newcastle