Big comedy fans Pete and Corinne Lloyd know all about what it takes to make people laugh.
“Both me and my wife used to go to comedy clubs in town. I used to do some stand-up myself and that’s where I found out about some of the dingy little clubs people perform at.”
Lifelong Ruislip man Pete Lloyd is reflecting on the comedy scene, and how he got lucky, putting an unremarkable watering hole into many people’s social diary.
The comedy loving couple, from Northdown Close, Ruislip, started the gigs in November 2010 on the premise of offering people the chance to see top stand-up at a decent venue without spending lots of money on travel into central London.
Perhaps not unique – the Comedy Bunker up the road at Ruislip Golf Centre is in a similar vein – but if the demand is there for two clubs this far out in Metroland, the Lloyds had the comedy connections to deliver the talent to the audience.
After all, it’s tough out there just pulling a crowd.
“There are clubs where you have to pay to get on stage and you have to bring a crowd of mates with you if you want to perform. It’s pretty horrible,” reveals Pete.
“That’s what made me really want to do it, to put on a great night for the comedians and for the audience.”
He certainly had no idea when he started that his dream of a local comedy night would ever get so popular.
“We’ve been really lucky,” he admits. “We’ve had some great TV comedians come down and do their gigs here before setting off on tours, as well as up-and-coming comedy talent who have gone on to do world tours.
“I just wanted to give them a stage and give them an audience and give them a good gig.”
And good it was; Empire Comedy was nominated for television channel Dave’s One Night Stand awards. Talent that has graced the Ruislip stage includes Nick Helm, winner of the Edinburgh Fringe’s funniest one-liner of 2011 (“I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”), Fringe best show award winner, Phil Nichol, and Chortle Award winner Nathan Caton.
The Lloyds had to move Empire Comedy from The Woodman in Eastcote just over a year ago because of its success but now that same success has forced the couple to make a tricky decision. And they have decided family comes first.
“It got to the point where if I wanted to keep it going I would have to quit my day job, but we are in the process of getting a mortgage and want to start a family,” said Pete.
“I can’t put the effort into it that it needs, and I wouldn’t want it to dwindle and become one of those rubbish nights that inspired me to do this in the first place.
“It’s been a little bit heartbreaking telling everyone it’s our last one. I will really miss it and we’ve been so lucky to be able to put it on.”
The final Empire Comedy night at The White Bear in Ickenham Road on March 28 is one not to be missed, with a late licence and karaoke.
The headliner is Brendon Burns, supported by Christian Reilly, Bec Hill, Joel Dommett, Sad Faces and Miles Lloyd. Tickets are £5 and available on the door or at www.empirecomedy.co.uk.