13 February 2024

Wollongong's funny bone is back in place with return of comedy at the Builders

| Zoe Cartwright
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two smiling men

Stu Macpherson and Martin Henchion have announced the return of Wollongong Comedy Club’s monthly shows at The Builders Club. Photo: Martin Henchion.

Do you feel like Wollongong is just … missing something? Like life isn’t quite as light-hearted as it used to be?

You’re not wrong – it’s been four years since Wollongong Comedy has put on a show, but on Saturday, 17 February, the laughs will be back.

The club began in 2006 when comedian Martin Henchion arrived from Ireland and began the search for a space, and the Craichhouse Comedy Club was born.

“The Builders Club were the only ones who could understand my accent,” he quipped.

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Along with Stu Macpherson, Martin began to run comedy nights along the coast from Thirroul to Batemans Bay.

What started as a monthly event at the Wollongong Builders Club became fortnightly in 2010, and by 2015 there was a comedy boom in the Illawarra.

“A bunch of open-mic nights started to pop up and a heap of comedians came out of the woodwork,” Martin said.

Stu added: “We’ve had some big names in comedy over the years, like Tom Gleeson, Cal Wilson, Glenn Robbins, Fiona O’Loughlin and Tony Martin.

“We’ve also seen some comedians start their careers and rise through the ranks of the national comedy scene, such as Luke Heggie, Lizzy Hoo and Matt Okine.”

The pandemic put a dampener on things, and just as the world began to open up again, The Builders Club began a refurbishment of its Basement Bar.

Now, with pandemic restrictions over and the Basement Bar open for business, the Wollongong Comedy Club is back.

The first show features Australian stand-up comedy icon Dave O’Neil, who you might have spotted on TV shows Spicks and Specks, and Have You Been Paying Attention?

Ready Steady Cook star David Smiedt will be the MC, and the bill features award-winning comedian and disability advocate Madeleine Stewart and Channel 10 writer and actor Alex Jae as support acts.

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“We’re back to the spiritual home of comedy in the area,” Martin said.

“The refurb looks sensational, the club is backing us, and we can get the best acts around. We’re super excited to showcase the best comedians in a stunning area.”

Tickets for only the show are $30, or if you’re looking to make a night of it you can buy tickets for a two-course meal and show for $60.

The club also hosts open-mic nights for people keen to have a crack and see whether they have what it takes to make people laugh, professionally.

Martin said the key to becoming a good comedian was a desperate need for attention, and having some deep-seated personal issues didn’t hurt.

“Being the youngest child in the family helps,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily how funny you are to start out with, there are very funny people who wouldn’t make good comedians.

“If you’re used to battling to be heard and want that attention, you’ll find a way to be funny – it’s kept me in the industry.

“It’s a massive joy being on stage, and it’s great seeing people up there for the first time. They’re not as polished but they have a great energy and the crowd really responds to that.”

Tickets are available at: https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing/1161434.

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