The Merry Hell moves, and we do our first Edinburgh previews at the Last Laugh

In January, we tried our hand with a third venue. We called it Cheap Laughs and ran it for a few weeks at the South Sea in Broomhill. The idea was to try out newer acts with a view to seeing whether we felt confident to book them for the Last Laugh and Merry Hell. It ran on Monday nights and to reflect the potentially variable quality of the acts, we only charge a quid for tickets. There were some cracking nights there, particularly when Ross Noble played. His material was quirky and fresh, and he improvised a huge amount, turning the venue inside out with his imagination. He stormed it, and I remember being genuinely shocked to discover that he was still only 18. Another act we had on there was Will Smith. Sadly, we then hit a dodgy patch where audiences were small when we had good acts on and big when we had some real duffers. By the end of February, Cheap Laughs was over.

I was away for a chunk of this season at the Last Laugh, as I went to America on holiday and missed four weeks' worth of compèring. I have no record of who did the honours while I was away - it might have been someone like Danny Brown.


We also got written up in a big comedy magazine of the time, called Deadpan. They came along to review the 23 February show, which was a bit of an anarchic disaster for various reasons. Luckily, the review was quite positive, and singled my compèring out for praise.


We extended this season right into the summer by putting on an extra four shows at the Last Laugh only (the Merry Hell finished in early July as usual, having moved to the South Sea pub in Broomhill in May), with slightly bigger names doing their Edinburgh preview shows.


Thursday 5 January: Simon Fox & Leyton John

Thursday 12 January: Martin Soan & Andy Smart

Thursday 19 January: Mark Maier & Jack Russell (guest compère: Danny Brown)

Thursday 26 January: Dylan Moran & Dave Thompson

Thursday 2 February: Stu Who? & Charmian Hughes

Thursday 9 February: Arnold Bolt & Ian Macpherson

Thursday 16 February: Adam Bloom & Dolly Dupree

Thursday 23 February: Tony Allen & Chris Lynam

Thursday 2 March: Nick Wilty & Phil Davey

Thursday 9 March: Mark Hurst & Ian Macpherson

Thursday 16 March: Neville Raven & Sean Percival

Thursday 23 March: Tim Vine & Paul Thorne

Thursday 30 March: Ross Noble & Bert Tyler-Moore

Thursday 6 April: Ed Byrne & Mike Milligan (guest compère)

Thursday 13 April: Jo Enright & Paul B Edwards (guest compère)

Thursday 20 April: Ben Cauthen (AKA Dave Johns) & Vladimir McTavish (guest compère)

Thursday 27 April: Dermot Carmody & Woody Bop Muddy (guest compère)

Thursday 4 May: Logan Murray & Tony Burgess

Thursday 11 May: Mike Hayley & Matt Welcome

Thursday 18 May: Earl Okin & Andy Robinson

Thursday 25 May: Anvil Springstien & Bob Dillinger

Thursday 1 June: Smiley & Gina Ryan

Thursday 8 June: Nobby Shanks & Paul Rogan

Thursday 15 June: Keith Dover & JoJo Smith

Thursday 22 June: Kevin McCarthy & Miles Crawford

Thursday 29 June: Marian Pashley & Rory Motion

Thursday 6 July: Marc Blake & Steve Gribbin


Edinburgh Previews


Thursday 13 July: Sean Lock

Thursday 20 July: Ian Cognito (compère: Roger Monkhouse)

Thursday 27 July: Simon Bligh

Thursday 3 August: Paul Tonkinson (compère: Roger Monkhouse)