It looks like internet dating’s responsible for the closure of the UK’s longest running comedy venue outside London: The Buzz. Call me mean, but this story of how Agraman, the human anagram, found love online fails to hit my romance buttons.
I don’t recognise the picture of a club in decline, John’s painting now. You still have to arrive early if you want a decent seat and he’s been sending out very mixed signals of late, starting the year with a move from one to three nights a week in an apparent show of strength, then this. Moving to three nights in January was always odd; it’s the worst month to launch this kind of thing. People are spent out after Christmas and pubs and clubs traditionally suffer. But it’s certainly true that the Buzz is no longer the city’s only proper comedy club. City centre venues struggled until the Frog and Bucket. It wasn’t until the late ’90s with the Comedy Store and Jongleurs that the Buzz felt any kind of heat.
Back in 1995, John helped me with my own efforts to boost Manchester’s nightlife; I was project managing the launch of what we hoped would be the city’s first permanent pub theatre venue for the Tetley Pub Company. You can see I got them queuing round the block on opening night and it was two years before the theatre company got moved on. John gave some free consultancy, which was nice.
While we’ve never gone as frequently as we’d like, the Buzz was one of the reasons Katharine and I moved to Chorlton in 1996. Since then the village’s night time offer has expanded exponentially, but the Buzz remains special; well off circuit in a proper tatty looking pub it has an atmosphere that can’t be recreated. Add to that an audience that’s always kind to the acts (and that I’ve never seen let down) and you’ve a perfect evening.