I got a message late last night from Noel Faulkner: “I will call you tomorrow to talk about losing the club.”
London’s Comedy Cafe is closing at the end of this month, after 26 years.
“We have been negotiating this for the last fucking year,” he told me. “I thought the comedy could stay, but the guy is a prick.”
“So why is it?” I asked. “The lease has ended on the building?”
“Yeah. They bid £80,000 more than we did and we can’t meet those figures, because comedy is not doing that well, you know?”
“So when exactly,” I asked, “does the Comedy Cafe close?”
“New Years Eve.”
“With a big party?” I asked.
“There will be a party on Tuesday 3rd January?”
“In the Comedy Cafe, because we have nine days to pull out all the equipment.”
“You have,” I asked, “been looking round for other places?”
“Yeah, well yes. But you might as well be looking up your own fucking asshole. Everyone is a fucking idiot – except me, of course.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Well, people go: Oh yeah, yeah, great. And they want to rent me rooms. And I tell them: Comedy costs me £600 a night to put on, not counting PR. I can’t afford the rent. You are going to take the bar money. But they don’t understand it and Shoreditch is up its own ass.”
“You would prefer to stay in Shoreditch?” I asked.
“Well, that’s where we are known. I can’t move to fucking Tierra del Fuego, you know? You need to stay around where people know you cos, y’know, 26 fucking years.”
“And the landlord,” I said, “is just interested in the money – obviously.”
“Of course!” said Noel. “What do you think he’s interested in? Comedy?”
“And the new leaseholder?” I asked.
“The new owner wants me to stay in, because he can’t get people in his bar early – he owns 10 pubs in Shoreditch. But he doesn’t want to pay us anything for the fixtures and fittings. We re-wired the building. We put in new floors and toilets And he has already gazumped us, so I’m not going to turn round and say: Oh! I’m going to help you do good business now, even though you fucked me over and given me nothing for goodwill. So it doesn’t look like it could work with him.”
“Is there,” I asked, “a slight possibility it might?”
“It doesn’t look good. He hasn’t got back to me in two weeks. So it’s probably the end of the Comedy Cafe, unless I can find something else. I can’t really talk about this. I’m so fucking wound up, John. It’s so really annoying. The whole thing is fucking annoying. It’s 26 years. Boom! Whoom! Bang! Nothing I could do. We never made the big money. Big names play your club once and then, after that, they’re too busy to come back to you.
“There’s very little support in the comedy business. A bunch of cunts. No better than the fucking City Boys, to be honest. An awful lot of wankers in the business.”
“But there are,” Noel re-emphasised. “Like (he named a promoter). And the other fuckers. They’re just fucking horrible people.”
“Why are they horrible?” I asked. “They’re just trying to make a living.”
“Well,” suggested Noel, “it’s screwing comics out of their fees to make a living. Is that OK? That’s a ridiculous statement, John. The judge asks: Why did you rob a bank? – Oh, I’m just trying to make a living, yer honour! – Oh, OK. No problem there! So, no, that’s a terrible argument, John.”
NOEL HAS POSTED A NEW MUSIC VIDEO ON YOUTUBE: