Komedia to celebrate 30th birthday in May

Graham Robson April 19, 2024

This month, the Komedia will celebrate its 30th birthday. From humble beginnings at a small venue on Manchester Street in Kemptown in 1994, to their home for the last 26 years on Gardner Street in the North Laine, Komedia has been through its ups and downs but has managed to weather the storm, in an ever-changing landscape, where multiple independent venues are lost each year.

Komedia was born from the minds of the directors of Umbrella Theatre – Colin Granger, Marina Kobler, and David Lavender. The company modelled the venue on the cabaret theatres they had seen while touring in cities such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Berlin. Lavender stumbled across the name Komedia in an international theatre magazine and chose it as it had “echoes of both comedy and media, and a sense of crossing boundaries”.

In the early ’90s, Komedia was a pioneer in this type of venue and their first season saw many brilliant new talents hit the stage for the first time, including the likes of Graham Norton, Al Murray, Mel and Sue, Sean Lock, Mel & Sue, Armstrong & Miller, The League of Gentlemen and Omid Djalili.

Komedia soon outgrew the Manchester Street venue and were soon on the hunt for new premises, which at one point even included a venue in Churchill Square. After much searching, in 1998, Komedia moved to Jubilee Shopping Hall (a former Tesco supermarket), the opening show was Disco Pigs featuring Cillian Murphy and in June 1999 Krater Comedy Club was born after the ‘crater like’ basement area was transformed into performance space.

1994 – Manchester Street

Komedia founders, Marina Kobler and Colin Granger, said: “It has been an incredible journey these past 30 years. The venue we created in Brighton in May 1994 was inspired by European Café Theatre venues and was something entirely new for Brighton and the rest of the UK; and it is thanks to all the brilliant staff and performers who have worked and still work for us, that we remain an independent, self-supporting venue which offers a wide choice of live entertainment, good service and welcomes people of all ages and from all walks of life. We look forward to seeing Komedia develop and thrive in the future.”

Komedia has won a whopping 25 Chortle Awards over the years including the award for Best Venue in the South a record 18 times.

To celebrate their birthday, Komedia is putting on a week of special events running from Saturday, 4 May to Sunday, 12 May, see the full programme here. They are also launching Komedia branded merchandise, featuring a custom illustration by Emily Wallace, which will be available to purchase in the venue from May onwards.

Komedia are also giving one lucky person a Golden Ticket, meaning they can access any Komedia event for free for a full year (and they can bring a friend/family member too). Simply head over to the competition page to find out how you can win before April 30!

To see what Komedia has coming up, visit their website.