The nationwide chain of comedy clubs, Jongleurs, has announced that it will go into administration
All its clubs have closed, consequently cancelling several events. This has left both patrons and performers concerned about their futures.
Who is Jongleurs?
Jongleurs is a long-standing icon of British comedy.
The first club opened in 1983, and grew into a chain spanning the UK. There were once venues in most major cities including Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Nottingham and Portsmouth.
Jongleurs quickly became the destination that young comedians dreamt of performing at, and a favourite haunt for big names like Lee Mack, Paul Merton and Phil Jupitus.
However, the company has had a tumultuous past including failed buy-outs and legal battles. Therefore, some industry-insiders were not surprised when it was announced that Jongleurs had gone into administration.
Why has Jongleurs gone into administration?
The company founders, Julia Chamberlain and Angie McEvoy informed comedians and agents that Jongleurs had gone into administration via a direct email. They said:
“We regret that we have been asked to let you know that as of Tuesday 17 October 2017, Roving Ventures Ltd (licensee of Jongleurs Comedy) is to suspend operations.
“This means that Roving Ventures will not be running any shows and Jongleurs Club shows and Jongleurs On The Road shows are cancelled for the immediate future
“If you have any bookings for the rest of 2017, and a couple of people have dates in 2018, we’re really sorry but these won’t be happening”
They also described the efforts made to keep the company viable. These included immense cash injections by the directors and shareholders, estimated at over £200,000 from 2014. Sadly, there is no money left to inject into the company, so it has had to move into administration.
The reasons for Jongleurs' move into administration are unclear. The administrators will reveal the root cause when officially appointed.
However, some sources have suggested that the company’s cashflow may have been affected by costly legal fees.
Recently, the company used images of performers (such as Michael McIntyre and Lee Evans) without permission. This led to settlement payments of over £100,000.
Jongleurs also lost its licensing deals in Camden, Birmingham, Reading and Watford, which minimised the company’s earning potential.
The waning popularity of live comedy may also be to blame. The influx of televised shows and the expense of attending comedy events are almost certainly contributing factors.
What will happen to ticket-holders and performers?
Customers who bought tickets for future dates will not be eligible for a refund, according to company sources.
Performers, some of whom have played at these clubs for over 20 years, will have to find new venues.
Some acts have not received payment for previous work, and are now uncertain about their futures.
Ray Badran, an Australian comic, took to Twitter to display his outrage:
“They didn’t pay me all year and now owe me £1,720. Too often are comedians made to pay the costs of a business just because the owners can get away with not paying them immediately.”
The directors have asked for "clarification" about gigs already performed. The administrators will contact acts directly to explain the company's circumstances.
Other comedians, like Bethany Black, paid respect to the company:
“When I started out Jongleurs was what you aimed for. It’s such a shame the brand was mismanaged so badly. A shame so many are still owed.”
This may not mean the end for Jongleurs’ comedy clubs. The administrators may be able to restructure or regain viability through several turnaround methods. We’ll just have to watch this space.