Every fortnight, an unassuming pub in New Cross hosts some of the biggest names in comedy for little more than the price of a pint.

For just a fiver, you can see the likes of Josh Widdicombe, Bridget Christie and Stewart Lee performing to an intimate audience. Regular MC and awesome Brockley-based comedian Holly Walsh talked to Vibe’s Jim Palmer about Happy Mondays at The Amersham Arms.

Can you tell me a bit about how Happy Mondays came about and your involvement?

Happy Mondays has been going for donkey's years - it's probably one of the longest running independent nights in SE London (apart from the brilliant Up The Creek in Greenwich and The Hob in Forest Hill).

I took over mc-ing it about five years ago, and we've been running it for about the last three. 

Why did you choose New Cross and the Amersham Arms? What makes it a good venue/location?

A mixture of 'great venue' and 'laziness'.

I live up the road in Brockley, so it's super easy to get to.  The Amersham are also amazingly supportive of our nights, and that helps a lot. It's a lovely room to play. 

How many people are involved?

There's a little team of us who run it. We've got Laura on the door, Jon does the adminy online stuff, and my friend Al and I MC it. 

You get some really great names (Stewart Lee, Al Murray, Richard Herring, Isy Suttie, Milton Jones and Josie Long have all played Happy Mondays recently), how do you manage to get them along?

Well, I gig with a lot of them. And I think the acts like somewhere a bit off the radar to come and try new stuff.

Often they'll be working up a tour or a routine and they need to try it in front of people.

I've always found our audiences to be enthusiastic and open minded. There's nothing polished about our night, which is a good thing. 

Who has been your favourite performer at Happy Mondays so far?

Oh man, too many to mention.

We've had Stuart Lee a few times, Al Murray, Sarah Millican, Greg Davies, Milton Jones....  we were really chuffed to have David Cross (terrific American stand up, he's on Arrested Development if you've seen that) last autumn. 

For me it's often the new people who are just breaking through that I love to watch the most - people like Phil Wang and Dane Baptiste. 

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Lewisham's Dane Baptiste

Who are you most excited about coming up?

Everyone on the lineup! We really only ask people we like and would want to see. Bridget Christie and Katherine Ryan (both March 9) will be excellent.  

What feedback have you had from performers?

How nice the ale is. They have Harvey's on tap at the Amersham, which as we all know, is the king of the ales. 

I’m sure you must have heard this before, but it’s so cheap (just £5 a ticket for two and a half hours and four comedians)! How come?

Mainly because we don't want the audience to expect a slick show.

They get to see amazing comics for little more than the price of a pint. But the acts are trying stuff out. It can be work in progress.

If we doubled the price, I think the audience would want to see 'best of' material, and that's not what we're here for. 

Is south east London a bit of a hot bed for comedy?

Yeah, it's really interesting in terms of modern comedy history. Malcom Hardee, Vic & Bob, a lot of the Fast Show - loads of comedians come from, or have lived around our way. Probably because it's quite cheap, and most comedians tend to be skint. 

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Vic and Bob

How do you find being compere?

I love it. It makes me turn over more material, because lots of people come every week. Plus I book a lot of my friends, which is fun. 

What’s your next project?

I'm hosting a new panel show for Radio 4 - we're recording it over the next month, and I'm working on some scripty things. That's what I should be doing now!

  • Happy Mondays returns to the Amersham Arms tonight (January 12) with Josh Widdicombe and Aisling Bea joining Holly Walsh. Tickets cost £5. Go to facebook.com/happymondayscomedy