Just the Tonic is a very small and independently run comedy production company, started by myself (Darrell Martin) in 1994. It started as a Sunday night comedy club. By March 2020 this had grown into a well respected mid sized Edfringe venue and a string of Saturday night comedy clubs across the UK. It is still run by myself with the help of a small but dedicated team.
WHAT WILL WE DO WITH THE PENNIES
We need to be able to pay our staff when the furlough ends. That is our priority. We need to ensure that we have the team with the right skills and experience still able to carry out the roles to keep going.
We will have liabilities to the VAT man, and HMRC when they come calling in January.
We have ongoing costs such as storage, internet, insurances and all of the other small niggly things that eat the finances away.
Our cash flow relies heavily on our clubs throughout the year and Edfringe. We refunded every performer from our 2020 Edfringe season, and refunded tickets to all of our comedy club nights customers from 21st March onwards. This drew on any money we had to cover these costs.
We have stripped everything back, we have left our office, to avoid those costs.
We will also need funding to actually get restarted. Planning for and creating events requires investment. Our cash flow has come to almost a complete stand still.
We have never received any funding from The Arts Council, The Government, or any artistic body. We rely totally on selling running events and selling tickets.
AS A THANK YOU - A FREEBIE
Everyone who donates £5 or more will get a free ticket to one of our live streaming events, which are on Saturdays fortnightly (Previous ones have had Johnny Vegas, Jason Manford, Kerry Godliman, Al Murray, Russell Kane)
Here's a few old flyers and brochures for you to stare at:
EDFRINGE FESTIVAL - HOW JUST THE TONIC GOT THERE
In 1999 I was selected to be a compere in the Big Value Comedy Show. In the same year as Micky Flanagan (where is he now?). 2 years later the producer of that show stopped working in comedy and I was asked to produce the show.
In 2005 we took over the running of the venue for Edfringe and that was the start of Just the Tonic as an Edfringe venue. We soon established ourselves as a cheap option for performers in the days before the Free Fringe type model. In our time we have been the venue for a huge host of comedians that have gone on to become regulars at the Fringe and household names and TV stars.
We have always operated a model where we offer reasonable ticket prices to the public, as well as being a realistic working model for artists, meaning we are not one the venues where people go and regularly lose thousands. We have always maintained a policy of paying our staff and not relying on volunteers.
BIG VALUE COMEDY SHOWS
“Big Value is the best compilation show at The Fringe. It’s an excellent barometer of people who are going to go on to big things. And I’m not just saying that because I did it.” ROMESH RANGANATHAN
After taking over programming Big Value in 2002 we have maintained the ethos and have brought numerous comedians to Edinburgh for their first experience of it. We can boast spotting a huge number of comedians that are now household names and bringing them up to the festival. People such as Jason Manford, Sarah Millican, Jim Jeffries, Jon Richardson, Romesh Ranganathan, Josie Long, Rob Beckett, Kerry Godliman, Kiri Pritchard McLean, Nick Helm, Jason Cooke, Daliso Chaponda, Gary Delaney, Hal Cruttenden plus many many more comics on the circuit. This is the longest running comedy showcase in Edinburgh and each year we still personally select the acts, as we did in 2002
'Big Value is boot camp for young comics. I had a great time, played to amazing audiences and learned how to become a better comic.' GARY DELANEY
A SUMMARY OF WHAT WE STAND FOR
We encourage and support newer and diverse acts. We provide a professional setting at an affordable price for people wanting to go to Edfringe. We don't pretend to be all singing and dancing with top of the range equipment. We are a proper fringe venue. Our emphasis is on letting performers get as many people in to see them as possible, in supporting them in doing that. We also aim to ensure that everyone that comes to Just the Tonic, whether audience, performer or staff, all have a good time. After all, that is why we started it. We love having a good time!
Fringe venues and comedy clubs, such as ourselves, are the vital grassroots training ground for the future stars of the future, as well as the places that allow performers and artists to grow and develop and experiment. This allows the UK to continue to be a source of original and relevant comedy and comedians.
“I have very fond memories of doing Big Value. It was a lovely way to do what can be a tough festival on a new act. I grew as a comic and made some great memories” KERRY GODLIMAN
WHERE WE WERE BEFORE MARCH 2020
In 2005 we took around 14 shows to 2 rooms in The Cafe Royal (now The Voodoo Rooms). It was all organised and set up by myself and Joe Dickens
In 2019 we had a full programme of over 180 shows a day in 17 rooms over 7 venues. It is still booked by myself, and set up by Joe Dickens with the help of Martin England and others. We have a bigger team that has grown over the years.
For Edfringe 2020 we had around 140 shows booked out of a projected 190 when the COVID hammer struck.
Our staff are all furloughed, which runs out in October. All costs have been stripped back to the bare essentials.
WHY HELP JUST THE TONIC?
Just the Tonic are integral to that grass roots and we want to still be here when this crisis is over. We want everyone to be safe, so we have shut our doors. We want everyone to have a laugh, so we have started a Livestream on a Saturday Night (fortnightly at present). But this will not be enough to get us through until the time comes when we know we can safely produce shows again and start planning for Edfringe 2021
SO, if you think you can help us stay alive, please do. We will carry on putting on great shows at reasonable prices, encouraging and supporting the best comedians and helping to keep this underground and undervalued medium (undervalued by the high culture arts bodies of the world) alive as well. We want to still be here to be a space that is professionally run, with a good reputation, with a real sense of The Fringe, that actively seeks out and showcases the very different and unusual talent that is out there. We know that there are shows and people that have gained a lot from the small help we have provided. We love doing that and want to keep doing it.
“Just the Tonic and Big Value brought me to Edinburgh before anyone else had even heard of me. The line ups they’ve had speak for themselves. If you want to see the best new talent before they become huge then this is the place to do it.” JON RICHARDSON
All help means that we can kickstart things again when the environment is safe, with a full team and without the burden of having got into insurmountable debt to do so.
Thank you for reading this. If you have been to Just the Tonic before, thanks for supporting us in the past, and if you donate now, thanks for supporting us in the future