London’s very first museum of comedy was formally launched on April Fools Day 2014…
Located in the crypt of an old church in Holborn, the space is beautifully decorated with an eye-catching collection of comedy memorabilia including Charlie Chaplin’s cane, Little Tich’s shoes, the Two Ronnies’ glasses, a Benny Hill mandolin and a Bill Bailey guitar.
This treasure-trove is hidden below ground level and aims to be a growing exhibition space as donations continue to come in, expanding its repertoire to include regular features and shows.
Alongside this impressive range of comedy-centric knick-knacks is the aptly names ‘Comedy Arms’ – a fabulous wee pub area alongside the dedicated performance space and theatre. When you buy a postcard you receive a free drink – now that’s what I’m talking about.
I came to check out this fabulous little space specifically for the ‘Tommy Cooper Show’ – a tribute to the comic genius to commemorate 30 years since his passing. Tommy Cooper was a slapstick comedian with a flair for terrible magic tricks and trademark one-liners. As a child Tommy was gifted a set of magic tricks for his 9th birthday and from this point he never looked back.
This full-length show was complete with live music accompaniments, giant giraffes, wind machines, general flair and interactions with the audience. While the jokes themselves were not something that would have me crippled with laughter, this particular comedian gave tribute with such passion, enthusiasm and hilarity himself that it really did just make you smile.
“My wife said ‘Take me in your arms and whisper something soft and sweet’. I said, ‘chocolate fudge’.”
“I bought some pork chops and told the butcher to make them lean. He said, ‘Which way?’”
It wasn’t quite the bell-rumbling laughs the papers had credited with, but I would put this down to my age and lack of identification with the original Tommy Cooper. The older generation present were indeed laughing hysterically and enjoying the bizarre and overtly clean jokes. In fact… that was probably funnier than the show.
The theatre space itself was cozy and quaint, a theatre that would make you fear the front row with modern day explicit comedians that like to choose targets. But here you can almost hear the comedians breathe, have their sweat rain on you, see the whites in their eyes as they roll back in laughter. It was the ideal venue for the Tommy Cooper show, and an intimate way to be educated in the ways of a comic genius. Worth a view.
Reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe 2014
“Hewer knows exactly how to deliver the goods” – bouquetsbrickbatsreviews.com
“No one can rival the original but this is probably the closest you are going to get to seeing Tommy Cooper on stage” – blackdiamondfm.com