Comedy / new material

New weekly comedy at Friendly Records

By steve wright, Monday Feb 24, 2020

The eastern end of Bedminster/Southville’s North Street has seen a fair few exciting developments over the last few years: a brilliant toy shop (Toyville), an ace local boozer (The Hare) turned wine bar/deli (Kask), a wonderful and award-winning bookshop (Storysmith), Bristol’s first zero-waste shop (Zero Green) and many more.

One of the area’s best-loved arrivals has been the music lovers’ mecca Friendly Records, purveyors of new and used vinyl with their own bar on-site. And the reasons to visit this place just got more numerous still with the start, last month, of an ace new weekly comedy night.

You’ll see big names headlining every Tuesday at Chops Comedy’s sessions at the Friendly Records Bar. Performing new material that will eventually appear on a much larger stage, stars of Live at the Apollo, Mock The Week, Roast Battles, The Mash Report and Taskmaster are coming to this intimate space to test out new material. Tickets are a trifling £3 until the headliner is announced, when they move to a still-trifling £6.

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Chops has been spearheaded by the brilliant Bristol comedian Stuart Goldsmith, who recently performed material on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, on national television in America, that started out life being tested to local crowds in Bristol. You can expect to see Stuart as a regular fixture at Chops Comedy, performing and refining his latest jokes.

Bristol comic Stuart Goldsmith at the first instalment of his new brainchild, Chops Comedy. All pics: Tony Chiotti

Stuart has created the night in partnership with comics David Hoare (Chops’ regular compere) and Tony Chiotti (he of popular Bristol comedy nights How Lazy Is He?, at The Lazy Dog, and The Cheese Comedy Club at The Crown, St Nick’s Market).

“I wanted somewhere in Bristol to exhibit the craft of creating new material,” says Stuart, whose Comedian’s Comedian podcast explores the lives and creativity of comedians and has over 15 million downloads. “Watching some of the very best comics in the country sharpening their considerable wit will be an absolute treat for the people of Bedminster.”

Comedians David Hoare, Stuart Goldsmith and Tony Chiotti co-produce the new night Chops Comedy. Pic: Polly Allen

The project had the most auspicious of beginnings. “It all started with an unknown number calling, and then a weirdly familiar voice on the line,” Tony recalls. “When I first started comedy, back in the US, I would go jogging and listened to The Comedian’s Comedian podcast. That introduced me to all these upcoming acts, and to the whole comedy scene here.”

The new weekly comedy night takes place in the bar at North Street’s Friendly Records

Tony moved to Bristol from Portland three years ago to pursue stand-up: his two comedy nights are now thriving. “I mean, in a pretty real way I’m in the UK because of that podcast, and now here he is, Stu Goldsmith, ringing me up to ask me to start a show with him! It was really strange. I had to play it cool, and try not to squeak when I said ‘yeah…sure thing, man’.”

Tony brought in his comedy buddy David Hoare, who had been hosting and booking his own local nights. The two have worked together to start The Kettle, an online calendar of Bristol comedy gigs. “Bristol has such a great and supportive scene,” says David. “It’s really popping right now, and the idea of a new material night where Stu is helping to bring in big names to perform in a tiny room…Yes please!”

The duo approached Friendly Records about using the attached bar. The timing was perfect, as Tom Friend and the team were keen to start adding events in the space. “It’s a small space, so you don’t want to drag a PA in and start doing comedy at regulars who didn’t want to hear it,” David explains. “But they will be opening specially just for this show on Tuesdays, so it allows us to ticket it and make it a club for the night.”

Stuart (far left) with the rest of the opening night lineup, from left: David Hoare, Jessie Nixon, Louise Leigh, Julia Stenton (front) and Riordan DJ

“From the beginning, I wanted to create a great new material night, selfishly close to where I live,” says Stuart, who lives in Totterdown but spends most nights travelling around to gigs. “I have a family now, and if I can stay close to home and still get the chance to try new ideas in a lovely room – that’s something worth building up.”

“Bristol has a reputation among national acts as a great town to try previews and new material in,” Tony adds. “The idea for Chops is to showcase the newness, to celebrate the process and craft of writing and refining comedy.”

And the name? Well, the unit occupied by Friendly Records used to be a butcher’s shop, as evidenced by the livestock-themed stain glass and giant ‘Pickling Tank’ mosaic on the floor. “The name ‘Chops’ captured the different elements of the night: butcher shop, vinyl and music, plus building up your skill and material, working on your ‘chops’,” David explains. ‘Plus, the butcher here used to stand out front of the shop and recite original poetry [Google ‘Bedminster Butcher Poet’, folks], so there’s a nice local history of performance. It just stuck.”

Chops Comedy takes place at Friendly Records, North Street, Bedminster every Tuesday. For lineup announcements and tickets, search ‘Chops Comedy’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Read more: Interview: Robin Morgan (Alma Tavern Theatre, Feb 26)

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