A new drive to get our town laughing

Russell Bland
Russell Bland

A comedian hosting a stand-up night in Wigan is hoping to kickstart a thriving new comedy scene in the town.

Russell Bland’s mini tour has been specifically targeting areas that don’t typically have a consistent comedy schedule or venue.

And ahead of his comedy night at The Berkeley in Wallgate, the Preston-based comic expressed his surprise at the town’s lack of comedy outlets.

“I look to go places that don’t really have this sort of environment,” he said. “Wigan is littered with characters itself, so I’m surprised it doesn’t have much of a comedy scene. It has nothing regular, at least. I want to build that foundation. In this current climate especially, we all need a bit of a laugh.”

But the 35-year-old praised the borough’s comedy fans, stating: “Wigan audiences are generally quite good.

“You’ll always get that one who has been out drinking all day and is a bit rowdy, but the performers are always witty enough to give it right back. You look at some crowds and think they’re going to be tough to control, but as soon as you get on stage and stand behind that microphone, they start behaving. So generally, Wiganers are really up for a laugh.”

Russell is hoping his appraisal is correct, having secured some of the UK’s hottest comedy property to perform at the Wigan show.

Headline act Adam Rowe has been tipped to become a household name within the next year. He will be joined by fellow rising stars Pete Phillipson, Chris Washington, and James Wallace - who is known for his deadpan dark humour.

Russell also issued advice to any Wiganers who might be curious to try their hand at stand-up.

“Watch as much comedy as possible. The best way to learn is to watch the professionals. But go down to the comedy nights because there are much better comedians on the circuit than there are on TV.

“Get yourself down to the open mic nights and test the water. If you like it and you’re good at it, work non-stop and do it four to five times a week. The best experience comes from being on that stage. Making people laugh for a living is the greatest job in the world.”

Regular comedy nights have been launched in Wigan in previous years - including at The Orwell and The Brocket, but both eventually ended.

The night of comedy will take place at The Berkeley, Wallgate, on Sunday May 21 at 8pm. Tickets are £3, including a free drink on entry, and can be purchased on the door.