“ Address: The Lion / 2 Britannia Street / London / WC1X 9JE „
A friend told me about this event after reading about it in Time Out magazine where they raved about it. They host a free night of comedy in Central London, twice a month, on a Tuesday, above a pub in Kings Cross. We decided to give it a go and see for ourselves.
The event is situated upstairs of the Lion pub in Britannia Street, which is just 5 minutes walk from Kings Cross station, on the corner of Pentonville Road. The downstairs part of the pub is quite spacious with lots of comfy seats, sofas and big wooden tables. They also seemed to have a table football game at one end. It was all very laid back. There is a large bar at one side and the prices were not cheap, as we were in central London. A vodka and diet coke cost £4.60 and a diet coke alone cost £1.55. The upstairs part of the pub is smaller. There is a bar up there but it was not manned on the night we went. The setup has comfy sofas and stools, as well as a few high wooden chairs, or standing room at the back.
We could not see a time advertised to start so we met at about 7.15pm. The comedy area was dead so we had a drink downstairs as my friend was then told the comedy started at 8.15pm. We then found the room full and managed to get the last chairs through sheer luck. The evening started with Adam, the M.C, hiding behind a curtain. There doesn't appear to be a set list, whichever comedian wanted to come up next could do so. The first guy was mute. Not the funniest act I have ever seen but amusing, and certainly original. Other highlights include a man in beach shorts doing an off the wall character led act, and a woman with a ukulele pretending to be Anne Frank.
All in all the night I went had 10 acts, which is a tad too many. There was a short interval and we got chatting with some of the comedians. I think it is fair to say that comedy is not a full time profession for them. Not everyone came back after the interval, although I had really enjoyed the first half. Sadly the second half (with the exception of Anne Frank) was not as good as the first half. The room seemed to lose some energy (probably as we had been sitting there too long), and although Adam did his best to bring some enthusiasm back, the later comedians seemed to be very half-hearted and didn't seem to want to try. Plus, they all seemed to be regulars and knew each others acts. I did feel like I was at a party where I didn't know anyone, smiling politely at the 'in' jokes.
Overall this was a mixed bag. If I had been reviewing the first half, I would have given the night four stars, but based on the whole thing I will give it only three. It went on too long (finished at 10.40pm) and was slow at the end, and I wanted to go home, but didn't want to be rude. I liked the informality of the set up, but it needed less acts and more enthusiasm from the later ones, instead of giving up. However the night was free and I wouldn't discount going again at a later date.
The Lion (formerly King's Cross Social Club)
2 Britannia Street