A Standing Ovation

The Stand, Newcastle, is the newest addition to The Stand family of comedy venues.
Since opening in October 2011 it seems to be gathering quite a following of both homegrown Tynesiders and those from further afield.
Yet, even though it’s just round the corner from us, and Mr SarahBosson and I like a good comedy gig, we hadn’t actually ever been. In a whole year of opportunities.
In fact I’d actually gone to the trouble of adding myself to their mailing list when they first opened, in anticipation of becoming one of their regular customers and still, we had yet to book a single ticket. Atrocious.

So a couple of weekends ago we finally made some last minute plans and trotted along to see a Sunday afternoon edition of Fuckwits.

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Fuckwits, we were told, is a spoof game show in which there are no rules, no right answers and nobody has a clue what on earth is going on. The ‘game’ involves two panels of comedians and the audience joining forces to attempt to complete the puzzles. The host and games master, a man charged with the task of manhandling this chaos into something entertaining, is Viz co-creator Simon Donald.

Tickets are an inoffensive £5, to accommodate the earlier time slot, and the bistro upstairs are happy to amuse you with drinks and food either before or after the gig. More on the food later.

We did infact show up too early and were encouraged to take a load off in the bar with some drinks which was nice as it gave us chance to take in our surroundings, peruse the food menu and pass judgment on the clientele. The bistro has a kind of trendy indie vibe, the menu is clearly well thought out and imaginative, the bar appeared very well stocked and the people looked young and comfortable. There’s an outside terrace too but as it was cold and raining we stayed inside, in the warm glow of the bar area.

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Eventually we were shown downstairs and into the underbelly of Highbridge. The basement still sports what look like public toilet tiles but has been opened up and then divided with heavy curtains. I assume these are opened to accommodate audience depending on the size of the show. We took our seats and settled ourselves with large glasses of vino (duh) to wait for the laughs to start.

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The show itself, though impossibly disorganised, was really good. We both enjoyed it and laughed loudly all the way through. I’d certainly recommend it for a cheap and cheerful way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

We followed that by coming back up to the restaurant, blinking in the dull grey daylight, and tucking into The Stand’s Sunday roast. £12.95 for two courses. We both plumped for roast beef with all the trimmings which was divine. Perfectly cooked thick cuts of meat with roast and mashed potatoes and an assortment of veg to share.

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– Plates practically licked clean. Surely a good sign.

For dessert we both chose the same thing again, which is very unlike us. The dark chocolate and hazelnut torte was fantastic and I was impressed by the very reasonable portions.

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Again, I really can’t recommend the bistro enough. Perfect for a date or a big group of friends, I already know ill definitely be back here in the not too distant future.

In fact, having had such an enjoyable afternoon chortling away, we’re now both uncharacteristically keen to go back ASAP. Perhaps we’ll pop in to see what the Red Raw nights are all about. From what I gather Red Raw is a weekly showcase for beginners, letting the newest Northeastern comedians try out their material in front of a live audience for the first time. It features up to ten new acts so I reckon there could be a high chance of catching the next Sarah Millican or Ross Noble for a silly couple of quid.

In short, even though I’m totally behind the times saying this because The Stand has been lurking on Highbridge Street for a year now, I’m really glad that our very own Newcastle is home to the third and, possibly final, Stand venue. I can see this being somewhere I find myself in quite a few times in the coming months.

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