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Having a laugh: What to expect from Division Street’s ROFL Comedy Club

Phillip Dolby speaks to Joe Zalias, host of the highly-anticipated ROFL Comedy Club opening on Sheffield’s Division Street this month. 

They say laughter is the best medicine, and Sheffield could certainly do with a good laugh after a ridiculously difficult, if not heartbreaking, year for many.

It’s exciting news, then, that a new comedy club is setting up shop in the city – promising laughs aplenty for those looking for a good time.

ROFL, a business which began life in Stoke-on-Trent around six years ago, has secured the former Pizza Express premises on Division Street, where they’ve carried out a £170,000 – £200,000 refurb project to create Sheffield’s first custom-built comedy club.

The venue, which is over three-and-a-half floors, has two entrances at the door – turn right and you go into the comedy club, or turn left to go into Hemingway’s cocktail bar. The upper ground-floor is a Belgian beer bar with hot stone cooking.

Host of the club, local comedian Joe Zalias, says the premises is about as good as you can get in terms of a strategic Sheffield location.

He told Exposed: “The venue is right opposite Devonshire Green, with a big carpark on the doorstep and close to all the nightlife if you want to go out partying until 4am after the show.

“However, its not right in the middle of it, if you just want a nice place to go for a few drinks and to see a show without wading through crowds of hen parties and nightclubbers.”

The comedy club exists, says Joe, to: “bring the very best stand-up comedians from all over the world – including TV names – to the stage, in an intimate venue with the best possible atmosphere.”

The club itself is to seat 100 people, and the bar will seat 150. The comedy is aimed at all ages – from 18 years to 118 years – “If they can manage the stairs,” quips Joe.

Punters can expect a diverse range of acts. Every line-up will be different, with each show having three varying styles of comedy. So there might be a storyteller, a one-liner comedian and a guy with a guitar, for example.

“You won’t be seeing Bernard Manning or Chubby Brown,” explains Joe, “This is comedy for people who have a sense of humour.”

Initially the events will run on Friday and Saturday nights. Joe Zalias will host the shows along with three pro comedians. An interval will be held between acts for toilet breaks and so that the audience can order food or drinks – table service only.

“A visitor to the club will feel like they have been truly cared for and thought about,” says Joe. “ROFL comedy clubs are not just a good night out, they are the BEST night out. Every single detail has been thought of to ensure a great experience. Plus it’s affordable, so you can come as often as you like.”

So far the club has secured a long list of acts. The club’s opening night is on 21 May and will feature three incredible comedians for the big show including: Esther Manito from ITV’s Stand Up Sketch Show and Eshaan Akbar who people may have seen on Mock the Week, Qi or Frankie Boyles New World Order.
Customers need not fear the pandemic as appropriate Covid-secure arrangements and sanitising is all in place.

As we come out of lockdown, Joe believes the comedy club will play its part in revitalising the city’s post-pandemic night-time economy.

He said: “Sheffield and most towns are going to have a bit of a roaring 2020s, I think. Shops and offices might be struggling a bit and city centres will definitely change but people will really want to socialise and spend time with friends and family.

“I think the forced separation that we have all been through will have altered a lot of people’s priorities and leisure time – especially comedy and laughter – is going to be valued more than ever.”

Tickets for ROFL comedy club need to be booked in advance via at £12 per person. Doors open at 7pm and the show will be over by 11pm.

Read about more of Sheffield’s finest independent businesses in ‘The Little Book of Sheffield’, available to purchase online here

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