Comedy first

A PERTH husband and wife team have spent $3 million building the first purpose-built comedy venue in the city.

The Comedy Lounge is on Murray Street and due to open on November 23.

John and Jane McAllister searched for an existing venue for a comedy club in Perth, but couldn’t find anything suitable.

So they decided to build their own venue, above an existing restaurant.

“Actors have theatres, acrobats have circus tents; comedy too is a specialised craft that is ideally presented in a certain environment and that New York cabaret-style venue people associate with stand-up, like Seinfeld, is what we’ve built for Perth,” Mr McAllister says.

• John McAllister (centre with glasses) with Perth comedians on Murray Street Perth. Photos

A plasterer by trade, he switched to comedy more than a decade ago, going from part-time aspiring comic to owner of what was then the Werzel’s Comedy Lounge, and has since run a number of successful comedy nights and venues in Perth.

There’ll be several shows a week at the new club and overseas stand-up comics are already showing interest, like the Steve Frost Improv All Stars, which includes cast members from Blackadder, The Young Ones and the original UK version of Whose Line is it Anyway?

In a rare return to the club circuit, Peter Rowsthorn (Kath and Kim) will have audiences roaring with laughter in a number of shows in the lead-up to Christmas.

In recent years there’s been a resurgence in stand-up comedy across the globe, which Mr McAllister puts down to an increase in the number of hotels and bars putting comedy nights back on the bill.

Closer to home, he says Fringe World has played a huge role.

“There was very little comedy in Perth until Fringe…an audience of a few hundred a week. Now it’s gone up,” he says.

“In that month it runs into the hundreds of thousands.”

• The Steve Frost Improv All Stars.

The club will have regular “gong” segments where wannabe comics get three minutes to make you pee your pants.

“For every 10 you gong off, four make it,” Mr McAllister says. “It doesn’t mean you’re awful forever—just at that time.

“Everybody in this business at some stage bombs. The best-of-the-best bomb.”

The atmosphere of a live show increases the laughter quotient, John says.

“There’s no substitute for seeing a live act—telly will never replace that.”

Seated at tables, punters can enjoy a drink and in-house snacks. “All finger food; we don’t want the clatter of knives and forks.”

For a full program and tickets go to


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