What could persuade a group of sweaty 20-somethings to sit for hours in a dark underground room on one of the hottest days of the year?
A punchline – lots of them – delivered by celebrity comics and newcomers.
On Wednesday evenings, the Top Secret Comedy Club on 70 Drury Lane, hosts new material night and an audience can enjoy a full night of jokes for around a fiver.
Founder of Top Secret Comedy Club, Mark Rothman, said: “New material night is different in that its people trying out new jokes, it’s probably more hit and miss than regular nights, but there is a sense of excitement about the way that new material goes down.”
The sense of excitement is heightened by the secret celebrity guest – on this occasion it was Reginald D Hunter.
Mark often compères the gigs, he’s quick-witted and wildly inappropriate. Mark’s role is to warm the audience up for the unpolished comedy.
Mark said: “Generally audience members who get involved are not unforgiving, they are more playful and reacting for high spirited reasons, so I just go with it as best I can.”
After a lively introduction, Mark welcomed Nick Dixon to the stage. Nick made the audience laugh at the breakdown of his marriage.
After his performance, SW Londoner asked Nick if he gets more nervous on new material nights.
He said: “This word ‘more’ implies I usually get nervous, which I often don’t anymore, especially at my favourite clubs. Still, new material nights are definitely more stressful. But my natural talent always sees me through.”
Nick has been going to Top Secret Comedy Club for around six-and-a-half years.
“It is my favourite club in the world,” he said. “It’s always packed, the audience are open minded and there to laugh, and Mark Rothman creates an incredible atmosphere.”
Following him Njambi McGrath, the star of BBC International Comedy, entertained the audience by pointing out the hypocrisies of British patriotism.
Njambi said: “I have always loved the club because they seem to a attract a young hip crowd who are very comedy savvy.
“If I could I would always gig at Top Secret. Mark Rothman is the greatest man on earth and also very good at what he does, and he has redefined the comedy club, making it very affordable hence the huge numbers.”
Jonny Pelham, a self-proclaimed ‘weird man’, made the audience laugh with jokes about ISIS and triple nipples.
Will White, musical comedian and Britain’s Got Talent runner up, performed a piece ruder than the insults he threw at Simon Cowell. He seemingly improvised a song about anal sex with various members of the audience.
A tough act to follow for New Zealander Jake Howie, who spoke about Kevin from the office, sex and politics.
Finally, the anticipated celebrity act Reginald D Hunter came on stage, late. Some of the audience members encouraged him to leave the stage after he forgot most of the punchlines.
The secrets and spontaneity mean the only thing you can expect from The Top Secret Comedy Club is a good night.
Njambi is filming her comedy special African in New York – Almost Famous at the Questors Theatre, Ealing, on October 19 from 7.45pm. Her DVD is available to buy on Next Up.
Nick is performing at the Edinburgh Festival from August 2 to 26 (except August 13). The show is called Marriage Material and is in the Mash House at 7.15pm.