From the comics who call it home
Our beloved comedy club has seen thousands of audiences, acts and shows over the years. As a club always pushing forward and looking for new ways to bring comedy to Edinburgh old town, sometimes it’s nice to take a moment and reflect on the weird and wonderful memories that have built our beautiful club.
Who better to walk us down memory lane than the comedians who call it home:
Amy Matthews: Midnight Discos
“Monkey Barrel is a haven for lots of people during the Fringe – acts and audiences alike – but it’s never felt like more of an oasis than when Spencer Jones did his 50 Minute Disco at the 2019 Fringe. It was a midnight show/party where anyone could turn up and have a drink and a dance and Spencer rotated the performers each night. It was always a lovely mix of punters and acts, having a dose of wholesome nonsense. Chaos away from the chaos. It just encapsulated everything I love about the place: it was artist-led, inclusive, fun, approachable, a bit mad and had a heavy helping of heart.
Had a good show? Go to Spencer’s disco.
Had a bad show? Go to Spencer’s disco.
Not ready for bed yet? Spencer’s disco.
(A couple of times Spencer did a loop pedal remix of ‘Remember Me’ by Blue Boy and it was honestly in my head for about a month and a half.)”
A note from MB: This year’s Fringe shows will be launched here.
Jay Lafferty: Post-Pandemic Positivity
“Monkey Barrel were the first club to reopen when restrictions eased. It was my first time back onstage after 14 months. It was a wee audience of 28 but the atmosphere was just incredible. Everyone was so excited to be back out seeing live comedy – even if it was masked up and socially distant. Those first few shows back had this beautiful positive energy for acts and audiences alike.”
Phil O’Shea: One-off moments that only happen in the room
“I’ve got so many fond memories of seeing/being in shows at Monkey Barrel. One of the pleasures of being able to perform there regularly has been slowly developing into a double act with James McIntosh. I really remember the first time he decided to be a ‘director’ character, and between him and the audience it was decided that I needed to do a dance routine, incorporating a long list of increasingly unhelpful suggestions. It was such a silly moment and it felt like the audience, James and me were all in-on and sharing the same stupid joke in the moment.”
Stuart McPherson: The Best Fringe Show I’ve Ever Seen
“I’ve been spoiled. I’ve had many amazing times at Monkey Barrel, from seeing incredible Fringe shows to personal milestones. I remember being in the building before they’d renovated it and though they were optimistic about their plans for the future of the club, it’s nuts to see how it’s grown so fast in such a short time. They’ve got multiple rooms across multiple venues and acts lining up to play there, especially during the Fringe.
Personally, seeing John Kearns’ 2017 show, ‘Don’t Worry, They’re Here’ was the best Fringe hour I’ve ever seen. I was thrilled when he asked me to support him for his Monkey Barrel date on his subsequent tour in the very same room. A career highlight for sure.
The true joy of the club for me is knowing that no matter what night it is, there’ll always be fun, nice people to hang out with. It’s a clubhouse a few of us lucky folk get to call home.”
A note from MB: John Kearns’ comedy vinyl is available to buy at Monkey Barrel Records.
Rick Molland: Elvis Dead
Monkey Barrel will forever be proud to be home to the cult classic, Elvis Dead. Resident compere, Rick Molland, reminisces about the show:
“I think it was 2017. It was definitely Midnight. And I was in a packed basement. Not many shows do well in later time slots. But for Rob Kemp’s Phenomenal Cult Smash Hit 'Elvis Dead' the stars seemed to have aligned. Perfect Spot, Perfect time, and a Perfect Show. Evil Dead 2 reimagined through the Songs of Elvis. The show was amazing, but was secondary to Rob Kemp's performance. Elvis Dead. Dead Good!”
George Fox: Festive Funnies
Christmas gigs don’t have the best reputation amongst comedians. They’re often a bit difficult and pretty lively. George, luckily, has a nicer prevailing memory of one Monkey Barrel Christmas club night:
“My favourite moment was during the final show before Christmas one year. The overly excited audience jokingly demanded a song from the headliner, so the show’s entire bill of acts spontaneously jumped onstage and sang WHAM’s Last Christmas as the audience joined in. It was just the most festive end to the show imaginable.”