Just the Tonic is launching a new comedy night at the Assembly in Leamington Spa this Saturday (8th February 2020). In anticipation of the launch, MoodyComedy had a chat with Just the Tonic owner Darrell Martin about this exciting new venture.
Hi Darrell, can you give us a brief overview of how Just the Tonic was born and how it has developed over the years?
It started because I loved comedy and there was none of it in Nottingham where I lived at the time. I had worked in a nightclub called Venue and had seen how people put things on. I had also run a few things myself before. So, it seemed like a normal thing to do. The reaction from most people I knew would tell me it wasn’t, but it was a recession, I was unemployable, and had nothing to lose.
Why is Leamington Spa your latest place of choice to launch a Just the Tonic venue?
Andy, who has reopened the venue, knew of Just the Tonic from Nottingham. He approached me and told of this spectacular venue. I looked into it and realised that I could probably put on a pretty strong monthly event that could afford to pay some pretty good comedians to appear there.
What are your plans for the opening of your Leamington Spa venue?
I plan to put on a brilliant line up (which we have managed to do) and I plan to fill it up with laughing people (it is getting to be pretty full already… just got to make them laugh now!).
What is the ethos of Just the Tonic? What values do you hold close?
I try to put on quality comedy nights, with the best of the established acts plus the best of the newer acts. We try to keep the price as reasonable as possible for the audience and we try to put on events that are as much of a joy for the comedians as they are for the audiences.
How has your own experience working in/performing comedy helped with your work as a comedy club owner?
I can walk into a room and pretty much out work out whether it would be suitable and how to best use it. Just like when you meet a hairdresser, they will be looking at your head, or a plumber will be looking at the pipework in your house; when I go into a pub or a potential venue I am thinking ‘good sight-lines, sound desk there, toilets are over there, where’s the fire exits, too many pillars…’ Quite dull really. Also, working in comedy, I know most of the comedians so can ring them up and gently cajole them into a gig every now and then. Hence Leamington Spa, a splendid line-up of comedy for the next 6 months with much more to come.
Does each of the Just the Tonic venues have a different feel, or is the vibe pretty consistent?
We try and keep the vibe consistent. Similar pre-show music, same start-up and intro tracks. We try and treat audiences fairly maturely at each place, and we also filter out the troublemakers (drunken people who seem to forget the whole night is not about them). We really do just try and make it a pleasant and fun night out. Our choice of compere is quite important. We use the ones that really engage with the room.
What are your hopes for this newest Just the Tonic venue?
I hope that it is full every month with people laughing at us. What more could a comedy promoter ask?
Tickets are now on sale for Just the Tonic’s Leamington Spa launch night, featuring performances from Reginald D. Hunter, Guz Khan, Andrew O’Neill and Matt Richardson. For more information, visit Just the Tonic’s website.