Norwich is hot on comedy: Plus your favourite jokes

It seems every top comedian under the sun is descending upon the city in the coming months. From big name TV stars to dedicated amateurs, JOE WILKES looks at what's so funny about Norwich.

In the coming months the Norwich Playhouse will play host to some of the hottest names in comedy at the moment.

Jason Byrne, Russell Kane, Jack Whitehall, Dave Gorman, Mock the Week's Andy Parsons, Shappi Khorsandi, Chris Addison and 24-hour-show innovator Mark Watson are among the long list of top acts heading to the theatre.

Norwich Arts Centre and the Theatre Royal are getting in on the act as well – the former playing host to comic prodigy Daniel Sloss, just 19 years old, and TV character-comedian Lee Nelson, and the latter welcoming Jimmy Carr, Reginald D Hunter and Hollywood dabbler Omid Djalili.


You may also want to watch:


This comes on the top of several well-attended comedy festivals at Chapelfield Gardens and the Unthank Arms, in Norwich's Golden Triangle.

So what has caused this abundance of funny fruit? Why do people in Norwich seemingly love nothing more than a laugh?

Most Read

Caroline Richardson, the manager of the Playhouse, said: 'Mostly it is pre-big tour shows that come here. A, because they know us and trust us and B, because they can try out new stuff and get a good response in an intimate venue which is still big enough for it to be worth their while.'

Traditionally Norwich has benefited from easy access to and from London, with comedians seeing it as a good place to flesh out a set before touring it nationwide.

The 'comedians' comedian', Stewart Lee, performed his first gig outside London at the Norwich Arts Centre, and is known to speak highly of the city.

The Playhouse undoubtedly deserves credit for bringing top names to the city but there is also a thriving amateur scene. Local acts have benefited from the comedy nights at The Birdcage, in Pottergate, which has been a regular stomping ground for comedians to polishing their act before taking on the crowds in Edinburgh for the past five years.

Alex Carson, a sound engineer who curates the cabaret and comedy nights for The Birdcage, said: 'I think the reason it (The Birdcage) is so popular as a pre-Edinburgh venue is that it's ultimately the best place to try out new material as well as hone your already established set.

'It's not a big room. It's about 60-70 capacity, and there is no real stage to speak of, so the barrier between comedian and audience is completely broken. There is literally nothing to hide behind.

'We've also had a lot of fresh blood as well as some great acts that were hand-picked from the fringe festival by our hosts.'

With the Theatre Royal's refurbishment, the Playhouse's continuing reputation, the Forum regularly hosting The Comedy Store, a Norwich branch of the well-known comedy enterprise 'Jongleurs' opening in February at the Project nightclub, the Norwich Arts Centre and a variety of smaller venues, it seems that the comedy scene in the city is in no danger of dying out.

The last word should go to one of the most devoted local pushers, host of the Red Card Comedy Club at Carrow Road Derek Robertson.

He not only keeps Red Card strong, but also instituted the Red Card comedy festival, 'Laughs in the Park' held every year in Chapelfield Gardens.

He said 'Norwich crowds are notoriously well natured: we never get any bad heckling. The audience are very savvy, they know their comedy.

'There's obviously quite an appetite: comedy is the new rock and roll.'

Red Card will be celebrating its 10th birthday in October.

What is your favourite joke? We asked people on our Twitter @eveningnews to send us their favourite jokes. Here is a selection

moonjam: What's black & white & red all over? A penguin! (The penguin is a communist)

radiolaurence: Retail therapy: the type of therapy an animal needs when its lost its tail.

richywill: What's orange and sounds like a parrot?...A carrot

richardwoodEDP: Why can't you hear a pterodactyl go to the toilet? A: Because it has a silent P

chrisdelahunty: I went to the Italian yesterday, but a large lady was in the entrance. I couldn't get pasta.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus