Return of comedy for the under 18s

Making kids laugh is child’s play for The Duke’s Headliners, who return to the New Wolsey this week with more comedy for under 18s.

“The thing I’ve encountered with stand-up comedians is they’re all just big kids really; I think that’s why they can relate to them so easily and not patronise,” says the club’s Neil Grainger.

It’s not their first visit to the theatre, but this time they’re staging two events - one for eight to 12s, another for ages 12-plus.

“We do lots of adult gigs; we just feel kids shouldn’t miss out. Stand-up doesn’t necessarily have to be mother-in-law jokes or about rude things. Kids really respond to stories, tales and a bit of silliness - that’s what stand-up is.”

“A lot of it [the success of the New Wolsey gigs] is down to who we book. Getting the right comedians down for the right kind of audience. There are many comics who have two sets, their slightly bluer set for the adults and their kids’ set.”

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It also helps, adds Neil, that comedy’s changed lately. Funny, sweet, observational comedians are taking the place of stand-ups who take the Mick out of their audience.

“So there’s a lot of comedians who have material which doesn’t alienate children; put Michael McIntyre in front of a ten-year-old and a 50-year-old and they’ll both laugh equally.”

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The under-12 event is a great introduction to live stand-up.

The kids come alive and, says Neil, “it’s the only time where you actually think you really want people to heckle.

“It’s a nice feeling to watch kids at the under 18 event be in an environment where they’re trusted to have a bit of fun. There’s a naughty element to it as well, parents aren’t allowed in so the kids can kind of do what they want.”

The under-12 event, at 3.30pm, Saturday, March 3, will be emceed by Luisa M Omeilan, a comedy actress graduate and a semi-finalist at this year’s Laughing Horse New Act competition.

The 20-something newbie is already causing a stir on the UK comedy circuit, having performed at Banana Cabaret, The Comedy Store, The Vauxhall Tavern and The Cottage Redhill.

Presenter and comedian Sy Thomas has appeared in countless shows on Nickelodeon and CBBC and is a regular on the comedy circuit and Patrick Monahan, at the Felixstowe Spa next Friday, will complete the line-up.

Luisa and Sy will be joined at the under-18 event at 7.45pm the same day by former Perrier nominee Luke Toulson, also a regular on the London comedy circuit and at the Edinburgh festival and Joel Dommett, one of the circuit’s rising stars who has stared in C4’s Skins and recently performed on BBC3’s Russell Howard’s Good News.

The next Duke’s Headliners adult comedy night at the New Wolsey is April 13.

Appearing are French comedian Marcel Lucont, Peep Show’s Dobbie Isy Suttie and up and coming comic Simon Feilder.

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