The Comedy Lounge, upstairs at 413 Murray Street in Perth City is well worth a visit if you need a laugh. The brainchild of John McAllister, who started out as a stand-up comedian and then quickly realised that his destiny lay in venue management and promotion rather than cracking wise, the Comedy Lounge has been in operation since late 2017.
“I started like everybody does in stand-up comedy as an open mic comedian,” said McAllister, “and I just fell in love with comedy, it was like finding religion for me. I’d seen it on telly, but I never thought there was a place where you could go and see people doing that. One time I went to see Ben Elton at The Concert Hall and from that moment on I just knew I needed to be doing that. I didn’t know how, I’m a plasterer, I’ve got no arts background, but I thought somehow or another I’ve got to make that this is what I do.
“From there, four years after that — maybe four, maybe seven, roughly — I produced a show at the Concert Hall and sold it out. That was our RAW Comedy competition. Then, once you’ve got your dream you just single-mindedly attack that until all the obstacles fall over.”
And, bish, bosh, bash, Perth now has its own world class comedy club where you can see local, national and international comedians pretty much every night of the week.
Reflecting on how the venue has progressed, Mc Allister said, “We’re definitely in the best three venues in the world and we’re probably the best stand-up venue in Australia. I’m pretty pleased with that. When I built this venue, everything I’ve done, I’m always trying to find better and better all the time. The sound system is top notch, the lighting I’m always improving. There are so many aspects of the business.
“We’re selling out most Fridays and Saturdays. Overall, we’re very happy.”
As well as having one of the best comedy clubs in the world, McAllister also backs the local product, saying that Perth’s comedians also are among the best in the world. “I remember seeing documentaries years ago about how many millionaires there are in Perth per capita,” said McAllister. “There could just be something in the water. It could be that we’re so far away and we’re not trying to copy the East coast, we’re blazing our own trail. I think that comes across in our arts, because you’re not comparing yourself to Sydney or Melbourne, we’re just doing our own thing. We’ve got half a dozen top notch acts that could compete with anyone in the world.”
Always looking ahead, McAllister is now looking to expand his operations and bring more comedy goodness to the people of Perth. “You dream about it and then you’re doing it, said McAllister. “Who knows from here, we might expand. We might open another club. I do like the idea of a tiny little club that is only locals (performers) and then I can put more internationals on there, but not slap the face of the locals.”