Culture Magazine

UK Comedy – Three Deaths and a Birth

By Thejohnfleming @thejohnfleming

DEATH ONE

Time Out listings from 1986 featuring an even-younger-than-now Arthur Smith

Time Out listings in 1986 with an even-younger Arthur Smith

Last week, the UK listings magazine Time Out ended its Comedy Section. When British alternative comedy started in the mid-1980s, one reason it flourished was that Time Out allowed people who lived in one part of London to know that gigs were happening in various other parts of London.

Now, with the internet, comedy gigs can be found instantly, though not with short, objective descriptions in one easy-to-use single list.

DEATH TWO

This daily blog, which I hope has had a tendency to publicise the fringe and less-publicised comedy acts – interesting people doing interesting things. – will end as a daily blog on 31st December.

BIRTH ONE

Up The Creek with new bar to left and Lord Hood pub to right

Up The Creek with new bar to left and Lord Hood pub to right

Last night, I went to Up the Creek comedy club in Greenwich where they have opened an adjoining bar and cafe. Well, that is rather understating what they have done.

A long strip of Creek Road is being re-developed into multi-storey, up-market flats. The two brothers who own Up The Creek fought a long battle against the knocking-down of their building. The developers’ plan had been to buy and knock down the entire interior of the building, retaining only the frontage (which is ‘listed’ and cannot be knocked down).

Now the club has lost its back section, which used to be the bar area, and the developers are turning that part into town houses costing, I understand, £750,000 each. But Up The Creek – still under its old owners – has survived.

New bar and box office area opened last night

New Up the Creek bar and box office area opened last night

A new bar and cafe area has been added at ground floor level to the left of the existing building above which the developers are building (I think three storeys of) luxury flats.

Over the last three months, a new bar and cafe have been built in this new area, extending into what used to be the entrance area and box office of the old Up The Creek club. Inside, the stage has been moved, there are new stairs to a new upstairs bar etc etc etc.

Weathered look to the cafe Up the Creek

A weathered look to the cafe/bar, with ceiling still incomplete

The building’s interior is spectacularly successful in a low-key way (if such a thing can be possible) because the new cafe and interior look as though they have been there forever.

Old wood has been extensively used, the bricks have been ‘weathered’ to make them look even older and nothing looks ‘new’.

All this has been done over the last three months without closing the club at any time.

The new Up The Creek cafe and bar opened last night, although a few minor bits-and-pieces of detailing are still to be done.

DEATH THREE

Up The Creek was started by now-dead comic Malcolm Hardee. He originally owned 25% of the club. Three brothers (one has since died) owned the other 75%.

Last night, outside the doomed Lord hood pub

Last night, I stood outside the now doomed Lord Hood pub (Photograph by MEUNF)

Malcolm had a routine (especially for his Sunday night shows) in which he used to go into the Lord Hood pub next to Up The Creek, drink, then walk next door to the club and start the show.

Up The Creek was at risk of being knocked down but has now been saved.

But the Lord Hood is going to be knocked down in the continuing redevelopment of that strip of Creek Road. The pub closes on 31st December. There is talk that the developers may replace it with a gastro-pub, but that might be five years away.

CODA

Shiva Najaraja dances the Tandava

Shiva becomes Najaraja, The Lord of The Dance

I used to own a company called Shivadance Services.

It was named after The Dance of Shiva in Hindu mythology.

When Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, dances the Tandava – the Dance of Eternity – the world and everything in it is destroyed.

But, out of the thin vapours, life and matter are re-created.

When you create something, you destroy what existed there before.

When you destroy something, you are creating something new in its place.

So it goes.

Punters outside the new Up the Creek extension last night


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