CHILDREN and stand up are not words you might think go naturally together but comedian Tiernan Douieb says you should as they do.
And he should know for he is the main man behind the legendary Comedy Club 4 Kids – a collective dedicated to bringing the comedic delights of stand up to a younger generation.
“The idea for the club came from comic James Campbell,” says Tiernan. “In 2005 he persuaded a few comedians to do shows for kids at the Edinburgh Festival and it paid off.
“It is brilliant because for the children, they can see proper stand up comedians doing proper stand up comedy just for them in a proper venue.”
The idea is that the shows are suitable for anyone over the age of six and their parents.
“There is a compère and then about three other acts who come and entertain plus we have a selection of kids from our comedy workshops who have a go too,” explains Tiernan.
“It’s run very much like an adult stand up show but without any of the rude bits.
“It’s very silly and bonkers and there is also a lot of audience interaction but it’s never patronising.
“We try and get a big mix of acts. There are some solo artists and some sketch groups plus musical acts and improv acts who create scenes based on audience suggestions.
“Once we had a sketch that was about a sausage who goes to a jungle. It’s brilliant!”
The club is currently in residence at the Udderbelly Festival on the South Bank – a venue Tiernan says is “perfect” for the shows.
“What could be funnier than seeing a group of very silly and hilarious people do their stuff in a purple cow,” he chuckles.
“It’s brilliant and already even before you start, everyone is in a good mood because they are in a cow!”
This season they have a stellar line up of acts including regulars on the circuit such as Sara Pascoe, James Acaster and Morgan & West.
“I’m thrilled about this Udderbelly season,” says Tiernan.
“We’ve been going 10 years this year and it’s the fourth in a row we’ve been at Udderbelly and each one we’ve had bigger and bigger names on the bill which is fantastic.
“This year we’ve got some great names such as Jared Christmas which I’m really looking forward to.
“He’s brilliant and he does double act with beat boxer called Hobbit and they get kids up to do their own theme tune.”
So have any of them slipped in a rude word I ask?
“No, amazingly not!” laughs Tiernan. “I think most comedians who do the shows find it quite liberating not to swear or be rude.
“I think a lot of us are just big kids anyway and love being silly so the shows are the perfect forum to be like that.
“Adults sometimes just want you to make them laugh but kids are happy to be there and don’t heckle maliciously. You can go down the sillier and weirder routes. It’s really lovely.
“Also the parents tell us that they love it too – it’s always very relaxed.”
The shows have been so popular that the club decided to set up comedy workshops. Based at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark they enable young wannabe comics to have a go themselves and hone their skills with help from the professionals.
“We show them how to find the funny in life and their own experiences, and turn this into confidently-delivered stand-up and sketches," says Tiernan.
“We’ve seen some amazing kids come through the ranks - some are frighteningly professional and good - and it has made me fear for my own career on a few occasions,” he laughs.
Comedy Club 4 Kids is on at Udderbelly until July 12. Visit www.udderbelly.co.uk for full listings.