Alan Davies at the Red Rose on its closing night
End of an era as club bids a funny farewell
THEY laughed loud, they laughed long, and some of them fell asleep – four hours of stand-up signalled the end to 20 years of fun at the Red Rose comedy club on Saturday.
Comedian and actor Alan Davies joined a packed crowd to offer support to a busy bill of comedians reflecting the lifetime of the Finsbury Park club, which closed at the weekend.
But followers don’t despair, the rabble-rousing left-wing jokers have found a new home and will be invading leafy Highgate, playing at the Red Hedgehog in Archway Road from next month.
Angel-based comic Hattie Hayridge, who played Holly in Red Dwarf, club founder Ivor Dembina, Guinness World record holder Tim Vine and the unpredictable Ian Cognito – who has been barred from more comedy clubs than any other comedian in the country – were among the funnymen and women who took to the stage during the weekend’s comedy marathon.
Loyal well-wishers clung on until the early hours, and despite several members of the audience giving way to their drooping eyelids, the acts finally accepted defeat just after 2am.
Mr Davies, who learned of the club’s fate through the pages of the Tribune, said: “I came down here in 1988, the first time I’d been to a comedy club in London.
“I thought this club’s fantastic and asked Ivor if I could go on. He asked me if I’d done any gigs and when I said one, at uni, he said ‘no, you’re not ready, do the smaller clubs’. He gave me lots of advice. It played a big part in my early career as a stand-up.”
He added: “The Red Rose had a late licence so wherever your gig was, if you lived in north London, you’d come here and it was a big social event. We’d come here every week and then go over to the Cypriot restaurant.
“A lot of my friends I made then are still my friends now. Had I known what was going on, maybe we could have got something together to try to save it.”
The venue, which used to be a Labour club, has been forced to close after owner Ali Guvercin decided to sell up because he was losing money.
He has denied rumours, and comments made during Saturday’s acts – that he has sold it to a company which intends to turn it into a snooker hall.
Actress Kelda Holmes, who starred in Children’s ITV newsroom drama Press Gang, said: “It’s one of the most brilliant clubs in north London.”
Comedian Tim Vine, the World Record holder for telling the most jokes in an hour (499) said: “It’s sad it’s closing – particularly if the replacement is going to be a snooker hall. That’s so 2008.”
Ian Cognito told the audience: “If I was a living on that estate [Andover], if you had the choice of spending £2 to come in here, have a couple of drinks and play a game of snooker or £10 to listen to the likes of me, you’d be much better off. It’s only a building.”