Monkey Business comedy club returns to Camden

Monkey Business Comedy Club at The Oxford Arms. Pictured host and MC Martin Besserman. Picture: Poll

Monkey Business Comedy Club at The Oxford Arms. Pictured host and MC Martin Besserman. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A comedy club that ran for a decade at The Sir Richard Steele will be revived at a new venue in Camden Lock, write Bridget Galton.

Monkey Business was based upstairs at the Haverstock Hill pub and featured early performances from Michael McIntyre, Nina Conti and Jimmy Carr. Over the decade club founder Martin Besserman booked top names including Noel Fielding, Stephen Merchant, Lee Mack Russell Howard and Russell Brand.

But when new owners Faucet Inns took over the pub they ended his weekly hire arrangement.

Besserman has since turned to running nights in a Kentish Town café and a venue off Leicester Square, but is relaunching the club from March in a permanent home at The Holiday Inn in Jamestown Road.

The opening week’s line-up features TV panel show regular Ava Vidal and Pippa Evans

“There was a worry that with venues like The Steele’s and the Black Cap – a cabaret for 60 odd years - evaporating it was depriving the local community of entertainment,” says Besserman, who lives in Stoke Newington..

“I had built up the club from scratch to be a really well known comedy night – Michael McIntyre met his wife in the bar.

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“But I was in the way and was thrown out. I’ve tried to keep things going. Most of the people on my mailing list live in North London so I knew I had to find somewhere in that area,”

After running successful comedy nights at the new venue on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, Besserman was invited to manage a weekly Saturday night with an early show featuring newer acts, and a late show with top circuit comedians. With ticket prices at £9 he says “it’s a bargain for that quality of performer.”

Besserman was in a band in the 80s, playing support for big name acts like Adam and the Ants and Depeche Mode. He has also been a regular orator at speaker’s corner for several decades – an activity that sets him up well to host his comedy nights.

“I talk about politics, current affairs, relationships, I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s therapeutic but also challenging because you often get heckled. Myself and the other speaker’s corner regulars used to socialise afterwards at The Hanging Tree in Edgware Road.

“One day I mentioned to the manager their upstairs room would make a good comedy space, he offered to pay to print flyers and that’s’ how I started my first club night.”

Monkey Business Comedy Club restarts on March 5 contact 07932 338203