EP76 – Mark Tughan – Founder of the Glee Club – How to create a credible comedy chain.

Ask The Industry Podcast Comments

EP76 – Mark Tughan – Founder of the Glee Club – How to create a credible comedy chain.

Mark Glee


Total run time: 1 hour 14 mins 03 secs.

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About Mark Tughan…

Mark Tughan (@marktughan) opened the first Glee Comedy Club (@thegleeclub) over 20 years ago having just left his job as a city banker. He fell in love with comedy and put his money where his mouth is to become part of the industry. Today the Glee has 4 venues across the UK and continues to be (as he puts it) one of the elite “credible” comedy clubs outside of the London. 

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Here’s a list of questions we covered…

The Glee Club…

  • Why did you open? What were you doing before the club? [0 mins 0 secs]
  • How did you start? Buying a venue? [3 mins]
  • What was the scene like in 1994? [3 mins]
  • Why is the club scene seen as “London centric”? [5 mins 06 secs]
  • How hard was it personally, emotionally and financially setting up a comedy club with no experience? [6 mins 04 secs]
  • When Jongleurs opened I heard you closed for a few months to refurbish and up your game. Did you see them as a direct competition? [7 mins 38 secs]
    • Did you think you’d gone too big? Or was this also a reaction to the comedians doing arena gigs?
    • When Manford’s opened you said they’re the “pop-up banner brigade”. Does that mean you didn’t see them as competition?
    • How do you find juggling the needs of the perform and the audience experience with being a business that needs to make money? How do you calculate the size of the room/ how many seats you’ll sell etc.
  • I read an article where you said comedy clubs can’t be chains, do you still believe that? And why? [9 mins 41 secs]
  • What did he learn from his competitors mistakes? [10 mins 33 secs]
  • How long from when you opened did it take you to earn a profit? [14 mins 54 secs]
  • What’s your relationship with other clubs? [18 mins 22 secs]
  • What’s their relationship with the indie clubs in the places they operate in? [20 mins 12 secs]
  • How do you find new acts to perform at the Glee? [21 mins 27 secs]
  • Is it a conflict of interest having an agent (Off The Kerb) book your club? [24 mins 41 secs]
  • Does he think there’s enough clubs for comedians to make a living purely from live performing? [27 mins 07 secs]
  • Who is more important, the comedian or the audience? [37 mins 55 secs]
  • [41 mins]
  • How do you pick which city to expand into?
  • His legal issue with the TV show “Glee”. [54 mins]

Comedy Awards…

  • Birmingham’s Glee Club has won Chortle Comedy Awards, “Best Venue” award and Best Comedy Show for its new Thursday night show, Comedy Carousel. How did you find this impacted business if at all?
  • At the Chortle Conf in 2012 Brendon Burns said that the Glee club used to have a reputation for “lovely organisers but shit audiences” and you changed that by talking to the comedians. Do you still do that? Do you think more clubs should? [43 mins]

Social media…

  • What’s their relationship with social media? [48 mins 42 secs]
  • How do you find advertising in the different cities you’re in?  [51 mins 30 secs]

Dr Who / podcasting…

  • Why he started podcasting? [50 mins]
  • How his Doc Who show at the Edinburgh Fringe changed his life. [56 mins 20 secs]

Other questions…

  • Best show you’ve ever seen? [1 hour 3 mins 18 secs]
  • A lot of comedians call themselves comedians but they make more money from voiceover work or writing that live performing, so they’d self identify as a comedian but their income would define them another way, how close is your self identity to your actual income identity?
  • What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made and how did you get over it? [1 hour 3 mins 58 secs]
  • What are the common misconceptions people have about what you do? [1 hour 5 mins]
  • What is the most interesting thing you do that nobody else ever seens?
  • Who do you think is the most underrated person in your industry? [1 hour 4 mins]
  • When you look back over your career, what memory makes you most happy?
  • What do you think is the biggest problem in the comedy industry and how would you go about solving it? [1 hour 5 mins]





Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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