Ricky Grover Does The Comedy Shuffle
Ricky Grover is best known for playing Andrew Cotton in Eastenders but he is back to remind us that he is also one of the funniest and well respected acts in comedy with the launch of his new Comedy Shuffle club. In a nod to his East London roots his new club is in London’s only super casino in Stratford.
Ricky spoke with me about the club, Eastenders and what it’s like to spend even more time with his wife working beside her. I also managed to squeeze in a question about my beloved West Ham F.C and blag a gig at the club!
Thanks for talking with us Ricky. 13th April sees the opening night of your new club “The Comedy Shuffle” at the Aspers Casino, Stratford. What made you decide to get into running high profile comedy nights and how did it all come about?
I got dragged shopping with me wife to Westfield and couldn’t believe how much Stratford had changed in the last year. I was born around the corner and that time of day no one could have dreamed such a place could even exist around there. What was nice though is I still see a lot of local faces I know and they all keep saying the same thing ‘Why don’t you open a comedy club round here, we could do with a laugh.” So I never really come up with the idea, the idea found me.
Tell us about the nights and what you have planned?
The idea is to keep things fresh, hence the name ‘shuffle’. We’ll keep moving things around to keep the punters on their toes. The first Saturday of every month we’ll do a ‘Shuffle Showdown’ where the audience decide from an array of open spots who will ‘shuffle off’ or ‘shuffle on’ to win a paid spot the following month.
What is going to be different about your club compared to the many other clubs on the London scene?
It’s not just a stand-up club because it’s set at Aspers Super Casino, that’s open 24/7. There’s a buzzing atmosphere and there’s also plenty of food and drink on tap so hopefully will make the ultimate night out.
As well as comedy you have done a fair amount of serious acting. Which do you prefer and why?
They are so different, but, being an ex-boxer, stand-up has a special place in my heart – it’s the nearest thing to being in a boxing match; it’s you against not the crowd, funnily enough, but yourself.
Most people now know you for your role in Eastenders. After so many years as a stand-up is that frustrating or do you see it as a way of raising your comedy profile and have you any plans to return to Albert Square?
The power of any TV really helps. People feel comfortable with faces they recognize and the door is still open at Albert Square, so you never know.
You worked alongside your wife in ” Fat Gypsy Gangster”. What was that like?
It’s great working with my wife. The system is I say something and if she doesn’t hit me we keep it in. Joking aside, she is very talented in her own right and helps me come up with stuff all the time both in stand-up and acting.
One of my first introductions to “proper” comedy was watching yourself as Bulla and countless others on the 11’o clock show. Considering how many comedians, writers etc. made their name on it do you think it’s time we had something similar as opposed to endless panel shows?
Yeah, it can be tedious watching a row of comedians laughing at their own jokes. It’s a breath of fresh air when a programme comes along that gives someone a chance to do their stuff. Even if it’s not the norm – a good recent example is ‘It’s Kevin.’ It may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it’s unpredictable and original with some hilarious moments – I love it.
What’s next for you once the club is up and running?
I have been commissioned to write something for TV but it’s all under-wraps at the moment and I’m regularly doing bits and pieces on the box so I’m grateful for that and if the club takes off we’ll see what happens next. One step at a time.
What advice do you have for comedians like myself who are just starting out?
Watch everyone and don’t be influenced by anyone. Try and tap into what makes you and your mates laugh and run with that.
Despite being in Edinburgh I have family in East London and, as a result, I am a big Irons fan. Do you think we will stay up? And based on this very important fact…..can I have an open spot?!
I’m not really into football but I used to box for West Ham boxing club and my mum lives a minutes walk from West Ham football ground so I haven’t got a choice but to wear claret and blue. The Hammers have always been noted for beating the cream and losing against the underdogs and they usually stay in the Premiership where they belong. I think I just enjoy the drama of ‘will they, won’t they’ – it’s an East End thing and you can have an open spot anytime you like!
Ricky has not only got big names such as Omid Djalili, Time Vine and Imran Yeusef but is also adding in “the shuffle” element to encourage the comedians of tomorrow to get on stage too. This can be a rarity in the competitive world of stand up comedy these days so it’s great to see such a big name on the comedy circuit supporting new comedy as well as providing a great club to go along and watch some big names.
Visit www.comedyshuffle.com for line-ups and tickets.