As the closure of The Frog and Bucket, Preston’s only dedicated comedy club, is announced, three local comedians mourn its passing.Advertisement
Preston born comedian Dan Nightingale, star of the Edinburgh Fringe, compered the opening night of the Lord’s Walk club five years ago.
Since then, the tiny venue has staged shows by stars including Liverpool comic John Bishop, TV chatshow host Sarah Millican, Royal Variety star The Boy With Tape on his Face and many more.
But, after bosses announced the club is to close on Saturday September 13, the comic, who grew up in Penwortham, admitted he always wondered if it could survive here longterm.
He said: “Well it’s a real shame, obviously. I wasn’t sure Preston was going to be able to sustain a full working comedy club.
“And I was never convinced that the location was right. That side of town isn’t the ideal place for an alternative comedy club.”
Dan was the first comedian to grace the new club’s stage, hosting the invite-only Grand Opening Night in October 2009.
But prophetically, on the opening night, the newly rewired lights failed for a while, forcing the club’s first headliner, Mancunian comic Smug Roberts, to put in a tour de force performance under a borrowed torch.
Dan began his career at the Frog and Bucket’s flagship venue in Manchester and has long worked for the organisation.
He was the brains behind their amateur comedy night, Beat The Frog, which has helped kickstart the careers of many other famous comics, and which he also hosted very successfully in Preston.
He has many happy memories of the Preston Frog and said: “John Bishop turning up last month was fun.
“But I think the staff will be what I remember, a really good bunch. Shame their hard work has to come to nothing. This is in no way their fault.”
He believes the loss of the Preston venue will be felt on the circuit.
He said: “It’s a gig that will be sorely missed by comedians, as it was popular with performers. The Preston crowds could be brilliant fun.”
Chorley born comedian Bethany Black, who supported Roisin Conarty at the club’s all-female Laughing Cows night, said: “It was a great club – and it’s a shame as it has a knock on effect with other clubs.
“It’s similar in loads of towns. Unless there’s someone off the telly playing, people won’t leave the house.”
But Dan hopes to save his amateur nights at least. He said: “I’ll personally really miss Beat the Frog on a Wednesday and I’ll look into starting something similar on a Wednesday closer to the university side of town.
“It’d be a shame to let the energy of that night slip away.”
Jimmy Cricket, who is starring in panto at the Charter Theatre this year, said: “This is sad news that one of Preston’s main comedy venues is to close. I mourn the passing of any live venue that adds to the local cultural scene of a community.
“That’s why I am thrilled both the Guild Hall and Charter Theatre have been saved for the future. It means my Pantomime at Christmas will not be one of the last shows at the Charter Theatre and I urge the Preston public to support their live venues so that the town doesn’t go through another closure like the Preston Frog and Bucket.”
Did you see any shows at the Frog and Bucket? What do you make of the news? Let us know in the comments below