“The branding of the venue is yellow. The posters are yellow. So today, when I knew I was meeting you,” Juliette Burton told me yesterday, ‘I put on a yellow top. Maybe I over-think things a little bit.”
When I talked to Juliette back in February, she told me she was starting a new monthly comedy club in April – the first Tuesday of every month. Well, it is now April and the club starts this Tuesday.
She told me back in February that it is called Juliette Burton’s Happy Hour despite the fact each show will run for about two hours and is hosted by someone with clinical depression.
“It is,” she told me yesterday, “false advertising all the way.”
“How much does it cost to get in?” I asked.
“It’s pay-as-you-feel,” said Juliette, “and we hope people will feel generous. It’s a guaranteed uplifting night.”
Indeed, the posters proclaim:
HAPPINESS GUARANTEED OR YOUR MONEY BACK
‘You are not really a stand-up comedian,” I said to Juliette. “You’re a performer of hour-long, highly-researched, documentary comedy shows with lots of facts. Why are you doing these shows?”
“Because,” she told me, I will be compering and I can try out material for my future docu-comedy shows. But also it will let me do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – muck about on stage and be more myself. With my docu-comedy, there’s so much research packed in that I have to be really tight on the time and there’s very little chance for me to improvise anything.
“I’m going to be trying out some new material I’m quite nervous about at the Happy Hour. I’m going to be most open about my darkest mental health problems. But it will be upliftingly dark stuff.”
“And you are having guests?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Juliette. “This Tuesday, there’s comedy mind-reader Doug Segal, Eleanor Conway is bringing all the breasts – she has lovely bosoms – and then there is James Hamilton who will provide darkness. I want the audience to leave feeling uplifted, so he is going to come along and do some comedy which will make them feel sad. He’s usually part of sketch group Casual Violence but he’s testing solo stuff out on Tuesday.’
“Is he being sad?” I asked. “Or is he being just plain weird, which is what Casual Violence is.”
“Casual Violence,” said Juliette, “is very weird and twisted and dark and wonderful and so full of pathos. When I see their shows, I always end up crying in at least one sketch. So it will be interesting to see what James does on his own.
“Did Patrick Monahan hug you?” I asked.
“Of course he did,” said Juliette. “He is Patrick Monahan.”
“One day,” I said, “I may meet someone he has not hugged. But it could take a long time. Anyway, this new club night is at a new venue.”
“Yes, The Canvas in Shoreditch. It’s London’s first Happy Cafe, which is nothing to do with drugs. They have a programme of events that actively encourage happiness, including things like free massages, which they had the other day when I went for a rehearsal. Not dodgy massages. Proper massages. The Happy Cafe is run by the same woman who is charge of Body Gossip, the charity for body confidence and body image.
“They are the reason we are able to make it a free night. It’s pay-as-you-feel. If everyone pays £5, that will hopefully cover the costs to the venue – they have to have staff in – and then we will split any profit between the charity and hopefully the costs of the acts.”