Ricky Gervais has lent his support to an Edinburgh Fringe venue’s fundraising campaign.
The comedian recorded a video message for Just The Tonic, where he did his first paid stand-up show many years ago.
With the festival cancelled this year and large gatherings off the cards for months to come, many comedy venues face a struggle to remain open.
Just The Tonic has refunded all 140 performers who were due to use the venues for the Fringe this year, as well as ticket holders for comedy nights.
With no funding from The Arts Council or government, the venue relies completely on selling tickets for events.
The new fundraiser allows comedy fans to pledge money in return for various items, including a personal thank you message from Johnny Vegas.
Everyone who donates £10 or more will get a free ticket to one of their live streaming events, which are on Saturdays fortnightly (previous line ups have included Johnny Vegas, Jason Manford, Kerry Godliman, Al Murray and Russell Kane).
VIDEO CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE
Founder Darryl Martin said: “For years, the comedy clubs and Fringe venues have been the training grounds for the TV stars and arena filling comedians of today.
“But we are not recognised as an art form by the higher bodies, and never receive any sort of funding. So, now we have had to shut all of our doors, we are totally unrecognised by the bodies giving emergency funding to the arts.
“Our cash flow has gone, our staff are furloughed until it runs out in October. But that will end.
“This year’s Fringe has been cancelled but we have launched own campaign, under the EdFringe umbrella and are relying on the people that have come through our grassroots venues to show us recognition.
“The UK’s live comedy is exported all over the world. Ricky Gervais’s Afterlife 2 has been the most watched show on Netflix during lockdown.
“A show, where the majority of the cast have come through the UK’s comedy scene and probably never even been in the Royal Opera House or The Globe Theatre, or the majority of other cultural places that are already funded and will be even more funded in this emergency.
“So, thanks loads Ricky for endorsing our Crowdfunder Campaign. Comedy clubs, venues and promoters all need to survive so that there is somewhere for the next generation’s Graham Norton, Micky Flanagan, Jimmy Carr, Sarah Millican, Greg Davies and more to learn their craft so that TV can have some talent.”
Just the Tonic was launched in Nottingham over 25 years ago and has played host to countless up-and-coming comics as well as the most established TV names.
It is now one of the most respected live comedy brands across the UK with venues in Leicester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Reading and Watford.
It also runs shows at leading festivals including the Leicester Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Festival.
Past and recent performers include the likes of Ricky Gervais, Al Murray, Bill Bailey, Stewart Lee, Simon Pegg, Noel Fielding, Dylan Moran, Ross Noble, Daniel Kitson and Johnny Vegas.
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