Compared to the lavishly branded premises which the chain used to occupy in cities around the UK, the new Jongleurs venue in Hammersmith looks almost comically unadorned.

At one end of the old theatre, part of a historic working men's club tucked away between the river and the A4, a single illuminated logo casts a light sparkle over the stage.

There are no signs yet to direct punters towards the Rutland Grove building, but Saturday night comedy nights are already up and running – the latest attempt to re-establish the brand after its corporate owners, Regent Inns, went into administration in October last year, forcing the sale or closure of all eight existing clubs.

But for Maria Kempinska, who created the first Jongleurs in a dishevelled Battersea pub back in 1983, the new premises are perfect, capturing the same recession-worn spirit which her acts first tapped into 25 years ago.

As to whether the performances themselves have changed much in the decades since, Maria believes an increasing political awareness among the audience means things are coming full circle.

"We went through a significant change in the late 80s where people who came to watch comedy were really aware of up to the minute information," she said. "There were interested in politics and everything that was happening around them.

"Suddenly the audience changed and became more broad – people just didn't care, so the style of comedy had to be more broad. For anyone who picked up a newspaper that morning and tried some improvisation, nobody got it. But I think that's coming back."

The relaunched Jongleurs, a stone's throw from the company's offices in Hammersmith, has already been a moderate success, and Maria believes the economic hardships of the last 18 months will have done nothing to dent the appeal of stand-up.

"Comedy is recession-proof. It's just going to get bigger and better, I have no doubt about that," she said.

"There's a lot of interest in comedy. The fact is that England has a second language, and that's humour. It makes life flow much better, and we're very fortunate that people appreciate that here."

Maria is hoping to expand the roster at the Hammersmith venue to include the burlesque and the bizarre, and is encouraging any aspiring comics or other acts to get in touch - the only requirement being to have had at least some previous experience in front of a real audience.

"I'm planning for variety acts and bizarre acts, and if anyone wants to contact me I'd like to see them," said Maria. "You can use anything that's funny, as long as it's tasteful.

"It's a gift to be funny – some people have it naturally, some people might have to work at it. I've known comedians who've taken 10 years to get up on stage and do their half hour, but once they crack their own style they're away."

She is hoping the new Jongleurs will prove to be a breeding ground for young talent, as it has done in the past for the likes of Jack Dee , Harry Enfield , Paul Merton and Lee Evans .

Success may not be guaranteed, but the thrill of it all means Maria's passion for comedy remains undimmed.

"What options do you have in this world? I think doing this is one of the best," she said. "It means you have to forfeit the comfort of knowing that this time next year you'll be sitting at your desk with the same job, but at the same time it gives people something exciting which they're in control of."

If the new Jongleurs builds on its promise, it may also improve the fortunes of the Hammersmith Club next door, which owns the venue and is having to find new ways of sustaining itself in the face of declining membership.

Secretary Alan Brodrick said: "At one time there was a membership of 2,500 – now we're down to about 400, and of those probably 150 are regulars.

"If Jongleurs is successful it means we can keep prices down for the members and encourage them to come down. We've invested a lot of money but it's always a struggle, and the members don't really appreciate how hard it is to keep your head above water."