EP 24 – Peter Walsingham – Downstairs at the Kings Head

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EP 24 – Peter Walsingham – Downstairs at the Kings Head



Total run time: 1 hour 6 mins 10 secs.

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About Peter Walsingham…

Peter Walsingham founded Downstairs at the King’s Head om 1981 and has continued to put on one of the best and most well known comedy nights in London. Showcasing a selection of acts including comedians, sketch acts, musicians and more. In this exclusive interview we talk about why he began the club and how it has managed to stand the test of time against promoters and chain clubs. He still runs the club in the same venue over 20 years after its inception in Crouch End. 

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Here’s a list of questions we covered…

Downstairs At The Kings Head

  • You don’t live in London… but you run a London gig. Is this because the circuit is better in London than Cambridge? [8 mins 27 secs]
  • What advice would you have to someone trying to build a night like yours?
  • What’s the progression ladder like for Downstairs? [14 mins 06 secs]
  1. Eddie Izzard
  2. Louie CK

  3. Jon Stewart
  • Realistically how many gigs per year are you likely to get as both an open spot and a pro performer? [5 mins 16 secs]
  • What do you think of free comedy nights like Angel comedy? [25 mins 36 secs]
  1. Barry Ferns
  • What promotional tips do you have for people setting up their own nights?  [54 mins 41 secs]
  • Are there too many people trying to become a comedian?  [55 mins 43 secs]
  • Do you think the live circuit is in crisis? [29 mins 28 secs]
  1. Chortle Article
  • Thoughts on TV comedy [31 mins 41 secs]
  • Do you think TV comedy has impacted on people’s viewing habits?  [41 mins 14 secs]
  • What do you think of the number of free shows in London? [25 mins 36 secs]
  • The history of the club and why it started [10 mins 11 secs]
  • Does your loyal and repeat audience impact on how often you book comedians? [12 mins 43 secs]
  • Why he doesn’t perform and if he thinks that helps he club. [17 mins 44 secs]
  • How do you know someone is ready for paid work at your club? [20 mins 39 secs]
  1. Mark Lamar

Try out night

  • Have you ever just told an act to give up because they were so rubbish? If so, did they? [19 mins 55 secs] [22 mins 06 secs]
  • Do Big acts approach you about doing spots at your night these days, or do you approach them. For instance when you had Adam Hills on? [28 mins 16 secs]

Getting booked

  • You only book between 9-11am every week day over the phone. Why? [6 mins 27 secs]
  • It’s unusual in that most promoters do everything over email.  [5 mins 27 secs]
  • Why 9-11am and by phone? When are you going to start accepting email applications for spots?  [5 mins 27 secs]

Social media / internet marketing

  • What’s the value of social media for the Kings Head comedy club? [38 mins 26 secs]
  • Would you say your social media accounts sell tickets? [33 mins 23 secs]
  • Where do you advertise? Do you have a large budget? Have you seen a fall in the number of people coming because of traditional listings like TimeOut?  [32 mins 24 secs]
  1. Caitlin Moran.
  2. Snow Patrol
  3. The Eurythmics
  4. Harry Dean Stanton


  • What advice have you got for new promoters?  [39 mins 11 secs]
  • What makes a good promoter?  [39 mins 11 secs]
  • Were there any moments in the history of Downstairs that helped build its reputation as one of the best clubs in London? [46 mins 56 secs]
  • Do you think clubs starting now have a chance of building up the same reputation given how much comedy has changed? [16 mins 26 secs]
  1. Pun Run
  2. Geek night
  • How to build an audience for a new club.  [40 mins 01 secs]


  • I saw you’ve had some shows recorded here after Edinburgh for DVDs / YouTube release, do you book shows or club sets?  [51 mins 31 secs]


  •  Favourite comedians [50 mins 56 secs]
  •  Is there a reason why you’re basically un-Googleable. [38 mins 26 secs]
  • Don Ward at the Comedy Store.
  • Final bits of advice to comedians and promoters.  [56 mins 51 secs]




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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