I worked for Jongleurs Comedy Clubs from August to November 2014. I had friends who worked there from comedy and I always liked to do dayjobs for material or creativity – before that I’d worked at a local theatre as an usher, which meant I could see shows for free. I saw a great Ruby Wax show, but also saw ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’ three times a day for a month and still know the words to a lot of the songs off by heart.
Jongleurs was infamous in comedy, they ran 12 or so clubs across the country and you’d always hear comedians using their name as a punchline. I did one open spot in 2012 to 250 people in Camden, My set got 2 rounds of applause and a lady had come up to me and another comedian afterwards to explain why I was funnier than him, but the booker had replied to tell me I was too green onstage, I needed to be smarter or clearer or less nervous or something, which was true I was absolutely terrified before going onstage. I think I was very influenced by the comedians who didn’t want to play the clubs, I was very new to the scene and I just had no passion for the kind of comedy Jongleurs presented. It felt like acts had been repeating the same 20 minutes for years, Jeff Innocent headlined and he completely won the crowd over, but the venue was too big to feel like a real comedy club and the audience were just there to drink.
The job at Jongleurs paid £8 an hour, I later found an advert for the same job in 2010ish that was advertised at £21k. I met with Anas, the very relaxed British Asian boss, and we had a very straightforward interview at quite a posh office near Hyde Park Corner. I had heard stories about how much debt Jongleurs was in, and how bad they were at paying acts. On the first day someone explained to me that the accountant had terminal cancer and the intern who’d been doing the accounts had just left, which was pretty indicative of what was to come.