I’ve spent almost the last week playing the Top Secret Comedy Club on Drury Lane in Covent Garden. It’s hands down the hottest comedy club in London. With a wild spark plug Punk rock beer spewn air to it, it’s a jam packed jungle of laughter that almost seems to shake side to side when the rooms are hit with the thrilling and throaty waves of uproarious laughter.
I went to the club the first time on the first of September when I arrived from Los Angeles. I was part of a contingent that met up there with Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle and Jeff Ross that descended on the place. Dave and Chris were jumping up onstage and it truly was like watching a nuclear fission go off the crowd was so excited to see them. I really don’t think that part of London had seen something that exciting in years. I sensed even Chris was shocked at how crazy the crowd was going. After finally getting them to settle down, he just calmly told them. ‘Please, try to manage your expectations.’
There’s two rooms at the Top Secret. The upstairs room which probably seats 150 and the downstairs room which I’d guess is a 250 seater. They’re both always sold out, and the downstairs room is the best room / non-safe space for comedy in London. It’s raucous and racy, with a young audience downing pitchers of beer and cheering on all the anti-woke jokes the world has to offer.
A PUNK CLUB
It does feel like a punk club. A punk club meets what you kind of feel the energy was like at the Cavern Club in Liverpool when the Beatles played there.
The club first opened in 2010 in a Community centre – one night a week – Friday – the owner, Mark Rothman, a street performer at the time, was doing street shows in covent garden at the time juggling chainsaws, and he would do an a extra bit in his wrap up for money speech telling them about his new club and gave out flyers after the show to get people in. It built from there and has become a true staple on the stand-up scene in London and I suspect all of England.
CELEB DROP IN’S
The Chappelle- Rock drop in was not that out of the ordinary either. Like the Original Comedy Store in Los Angeles, in the early days, and now, anyone and everyone drops into the Top Secret to work out new material. Pretty much the top names in Stand-up. Amy Schumer, Trevor Noah, John Bishop, etc. This week as I’ve been there, Paul Chowdhry has been jumping up to do guest sets and the crowds have been going pretty nuts for him as well.
As I said, the club is the brainchild of the owner Mark Rothman who’s himself a damn great stand-up and former street performer. The hardest working little fucker I’ve ever seen in a Comedy Club or maybe even in comedy. He puts on upwards of twenty shows a week, goes on stage as emcee, works the door, the til, and just about every other job in the place. The vibe and vigor of the Top Secret is a direct result of Rothman’s energy. He’s a gift bag of all the tools of the great Comedy Club owners from Mitzi Shore to Dan Ward, Budd Friedman, and the Detroit Comedy Castle’s Mark Ridley. He loves comedy and he loves comedians. He’s a unique presence, and the heart, soul, and the DNA of the Top Secret. (He also pays his comics well, which I give him kudos for.)
VISIT THE TOP SECRET
If you’re in London, or visiting, you owe it to yourself to go and catch a show at The Top Secret.
Here’s their website to get tickets. Get them in advance. As I said, every single show sells out.
Click link or photo for tix.
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