Ryan Gleeson is a man on a mission – to bring proper comedy back to Blackpool.
The professional stand-up, who lives in North Shore, normally has to travel the length and the breadth of the country to perform.
But when he launches the Comedy Station Club at VIVA on Thursday week (May 2) it will, for once, mean a slightly shorter journey to work.
Actually launch is the wrong way of putting it. Relaunch is more apt, for Ryan’s Comedy Station has been going for the last 11 years.
He and a mate started it at The Edge in Poulton in 2002, then switched to the Winter Gardens.
They left that venue eight months ago (“it was hard to get a regular night because of the ever-increasing number of shows the Winter Gardens has,” Ryan explained) and after a lengthy search to find a suitable new home, the comedy night is finally about to be up and running again at Viva in the town centre.
Headlining the first night is Charlie Chuck – the mad but brilliant Uncle Peter from BBC 2’s The Smell of Reeves & Mortimer (Paul McCartney is such a big fan he invited Chuck to perform at one of his birthday parties) – and Ryan is hoping for a bumper turn out.
“It should be a cracking night because Charlie is a class act,” he said. “I booked him when we were at The Edge and we could have sold the place out three times over he was that popular.
“Being at Viva feels like a new start and I’m pretty excited about it because it seems like the ideal venue.
“It is difficult trying to get the right place for comedy but at Viva we know we can have the first Thursday of each month and having a regular night is vital in terms of promotion and getting an audience in.”
Ryan has been working as a comedian half his life, starting as a stand-up when he was 16 and still going strong 16 years later.
He is the compere at the Comedy Station nights and feels it is important to have regular comedy in Blackpool.
“In the 60s and the 70s the resort had some great comics on a regular basis but that seemed to die a bit of a death from the 80s onwards,” added Ryan. “We started this club because we wanted to bring it back.
“Blackpool isn’t a cosmopolitan city with a big student population, but there are plenty of people out there who will appreciate good comedians and a good night.
“I’m not doing it for the money. It’s not a business. I earn a living by doing stand up all over the UK. This night in Blackpool is just about bringing quality comedy to the resort.”
With Phil Walker launching Woofers Comedy Club in Lytham (also on the first Thursday of each month), it means it’s a bit of a golden period for joke-telling on the Fylde coast.
“Yes it’s great and the more the merrier,” said Ryan. “I don’t see it as being in competition with each other - in fact it means comedians will see there is a comedy scene developing and it will be easier to get them here.”
Tickets for the Comedy Station Night at Viva are £7, or £9.50 including your first drink. As well as Charlie Chuck, Trevor Organ and rising star Jimmy O are also on the bill for the first night. Tickets can be purchased in advance with reserved seats online at www.comedystation.co.uk or by calling the Viva box office on 01253 297 297.