Some things are done for love and some things are done to make money.
Years ago and in what seemed like a different life I used to live in a town called High Wycombe. It wasn't the best place for entertainment. But in the early nineties a comedy club called the Hellfire Club was started. It wasn't an overnight success but over the years it had some great acts on and also some real dross. Some of the acts will be well known to you: Al Murray, Harry Hill and Bill Bailey all appeared. Sometimes one of the acts was late or didn't turn up. Sometimes the acts were so bad you felt embarrassed for them. Sometimes/ most times you laughed so much you cried. The club was organised by a guy called Stuart, and although he obviously got paid for the job, he loved what he did and it showed in the enthusiasm with which he talked about upcoming acts and the reaction of the crowd. Having just used google I'm pleased to tell you the club continues to this day.
A few weeks back I went to Jongleurs for a night out on a friend's stag do. The contrast with the Hellfire club couldn't be greater. This is a chain (or franchise or whatever) and it shows. Expensive and nasty food and beer is available and is served to you by enthusiastic waiting staff (and sad to say the waiting staff are the highest quality part of the whole experience). Still all this could be forgiven if the entertainment was up to the job.
The compere for the evening was apparently a Portuguese man. These days its hard to say if he was genuinely so or if it was some act by a British guy pretending to be a Portuguese stand up comedian. I think I've got to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was genuinely Portuguese. He had some natural warmth and got the crowd behind him but he was average at best.
The first act of the night was a woman from Birmingham. She summed all that is worst about modern British stand up. She couldn't make a joke without criticising or insulting somebody or something. For me the lowest point was when she slated Karen Matthews. Ok she (Matthews) is probably an apalling human being but stuff like this is just like shooting fish in a barrel. I could have gone on stage and spouted lazy stereotypes and picked on modern folk devils for twenty minutes and I could have done it with a bit more enthusiasm than this particular artist. This is just the modern day equivalent of Bernard Manning and all those scumbags from the seventies.
Next up was an Irish guy. This guy had a bit more about him but after a while his act ran out of steam. You got the impression that once this man had wanted to be a great comedian but somewhere along the line (possibly at one too many nights at Jongleurs Leeds) he realised he was never going to be better than second rate. So now its just a job and that's fair enough. Most of us do our job for monetary reward rather than public acclaim.
The final act was an American. Once again he was nearly good but not quite.
To be fair to Jongleurs there wasn't any act which was as bad as the worst acts that I've seen at other comedy venues and everybody else in the audience seemed to be having a really good time. However, and this shows me up for the snob I am, I don't believe that the rest of the audience can have been to a really good comedy show.