Sorry, Ken Dodd fans. When we say ‘The Museum of Comedy’ we’re not referring to Doddy and his archive of ancient jokes. We mean the crypt below St George’s Church, Bloomsbury, which is soon to become the unlikely location for London’s newest museum: the country’s first dedicated to comedic artefacts.
The Museum of Comedy is the brainchild of Leicester Square Theatre owner Martin Witts. Over decades working alongside British comedy heroes, Witts has collected thousands of remarkable curiosities including Tommy Cooper’s handmade magic tricks, the Two Ronnies’ glasses and Charlie Chaplin’s cane. The 51-year-old has kept his comedy gems stowed away for years, but now they’re on permanent display to delight and amuse a new generation.
Next to each comedy curio is a catalogue number. Search for that number at museumofcomedy.com and you can watch a clip of the prop in action. Neat. On the crypt’s walls you’ll see the museum’s debut exhibition: photographer Steve Ullathorne’s candid shots of comedy greats such as Mark Thomas, Barry Cryer and Johnny Vegas among others.
Attached to the museum is the Cooper Room, a new 100-seat venue, which is hosting Edinburgh Fringe preview shows from an ace bunch of stand-ups until August. Plus, before you peruse the amusements you can sup on a lager (the comic’s drink of choice) at the Comedians’ Arms bar. Handy!
The museum opens this Wednesday May 28 and tickets are on sale now from museumofcomedy.com.