Edinburgh Festival venue Just The Tonic has started a fundraiser to help them restart for the Fringe in 2021 with the support of Ricky Gervais, who did his very first stand-up show at the club many years ago.
Ricky has lent his support with a video message to his fans to pledge money in return for various items including a money can’t buy personal thank you message from Johnny Vegas.
Everyone who donates £10 or more will get a free ticket to one of their live streaming events, which are on Saturdays fortnightly (previous line ups have included Johnny Vegas, Jason Manford, Kerry Godliman, Al Murray and Russell Kane).
The venue’s cash flow relies heavily on their local clubs throughout the year as well as the Ed Fringe.
They already refunded all 140 performers from their 2020 Ed Fringe season and tickets to all of their comedy club night customers from 21st March onwards.
The cash flow has now come to an almost complete stand still and they have had to close their office.
The venue has never received any funding from The Arts Council, The Government, or any artistic body. They had relied totally on selling running events and selling tickets.
The venue had always operated a model where they offer reasonable ticket prices to the public, as well as being a realistic working model for artists, meaning they are not one the venues where people go and regularly lose thousands.
They have always maintained a policy of paying their staff and not relying on volunteers.
Just The Tonic encourage and support newer and diverse acts providing a professional setting at an affordable price for people wanting to go to Ed Fringe.
Fringe venues and comedy clubs are the vital grassroots training ground for the future stars of the future, as well as the places that allow performers and artists to grow, develop and experiment.
Founder Darryl Martin said: “For years, the comedy clubs and Infringe venues have been the training grounds for the TV stars and Arena filling comedians of today.
“But, we are not recognised as an art form by the higher bodies, and never receive any sort of funding.
“So, now we have had to shut all of our doors, we are totally unrecognised by the bodies giving emergency funding to the arts. Our cash flow has gone, our staff are furloughed until it runs out in October.
“But that will end. This year’s Fringe has been cancelled but we have launched own campaign, under the Edfringe umbrella and are relying on the people that have come through our grass roots venues to show us recognition.
“The UK’s live comedy is exported all over the world. Ricky Gervais’s Afterlife 2 has been the most watched show on Netflix during Lockdown.
“A show, where the majority of the cast have come through the UK’s comedy scene and probably never even been in the Royal Opera House or The Globe Theatre, or the majority of other cultural places that are already funded and will be even more funded in this emergency.
“So, thanks loads Ricky for endorsing our Crowdfunder Campaign. Comedy clubs, venues and promoters all need to survive so that there is somewhere for the next generation’s Graham Norton, Micky Flanagan, Jimmy Carr, Sarah Millican, Greg Davies etc etc to learn their craft so that TV can have some talent.”
Just the Tonic was launched in Nottingham over 25 years ago and has played host to countless up-and-coming comics as well as the most established TV names.
It is now one of the most respected live comedy brands across the UK with venues in Leicester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Reading and Watford.
It also runs shows at leading festivals including the Leicester Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Festival.
Past and recent performers include the likes of Ricky Gervais, Al Murray, Bill Bailey, Stewart Lee, Simon Pegg, Noel Fielding, Dylan Moran, Ross Noble, Daniel Kitson and Johnny Vegas.