Give it a go: Leadmill Comedy Nights

Recently, the news coming out of the Leadmill has all been pretty serious, hasn’t it? The current occupants’ struggles with their landlord have already been well-documented (if you haven’t heard, quite frankly, where have you been?), so with that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight a lighter side to the venue, focusing on an underrated positive of this great institution.

As its reason haul at the Exposed Awards proves, we all love the Leadmill. The love is predominantly thanks to its status as the premiere live music venue in the city, a reputation cultivated over the last four decades, but in recent years, it hasn’t just been the music and club nights that have lured crowds towards the famous neon sign. Their comedy offering has steadily grown in stature over the years and brings some of the biggest names on the circuit down to tread the Leadmill boards.

Their monthly Leadmill Comedy Club has run on the first Wednesday of every month for the last ten years and attracts a host of stellar names, often selling out well in advance. Over the years they have welcomed the likes Armando Iannucci, Eddie Izzard, Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe, James Acaster, Jason Manford, Joe Lycett and Shappi Khorsandi (to name but a few) offering a chance to see many of them on their rise to the top of their game.

Leadmill comedy

Joe Lycett, who recently pledged his support to the #WeCantLoseLeadmill petition (see below for details), played the comedy club to just 50 people the first time around, before a touring show brought him back to play to a giddy 400-people crowd.

These comedy nights have often been memorable for more than just the shows, with Mark Thomas once having Leadmill staff order 250 portions of chips to be dished out to punters during the interval. The chips arrived with just ten seconds to spare, with the chippy speeding around the corner and screeching to a halt outside the venue. The Leadmill stank of chips for the following week, apparently!

For University of Sheffield alumni, Rob Rouse, it was salty tears and not chips that marked a recent visit to the Leadmill, as his emotions got the better of him when he saw a framed photo of himself backstage. James Acaster also declared the club to have ‘the stickiest floors in the world’ on his podcast Off Menu, and now proudly displays a piece of the dancefloor in his flat.

The comedy influences at the Leadmill actually extend back beyond its current rise in popularity, with world famous comedian, singer and drag queen, Divine performing in the 90s and the aforementioned Mark Thomas chippy show taking place in the noughties.

Leadmill comedy

Another comedy great who has performed many times at the venue over the years, and recently showed her support for the campaign, is Eddie Izzard, performing two shows back in April; The first of which featured Izzard’s stand up show Wunderbar+ and the second featuring her performance of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Izzard has long been a huge fan of the venue, and once performed the same show in three different languages on the Leadmill stage.

Despite the current upheaval, the comedy offering continues to impress with upcoming shows including Adam Rowe, Tom Allen, Maisie Adam, David O’Doherty, Jerry Sadowitz, Gary Delaney and Chris McCausland. Late last year, we caught Simon Amstel’s latest offering and while Amstel was on top form and had us belly laughing throughout, it was great to see the venue’s versatility firsthand. Yet another reason #WeCantLoseLeadmill.

Tickets for upcoming shows can be purchased from leadmill.co.uk and you can sign the official e-petition here.

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