Once, consuming the news in a bar was an activity requiring a pint, a paper and a quiet lonely corner. Now with the arrival from Edinburgh of What Has The News Ever Done For Me? at Tufnell Park’s Aces and Eights Saloon, you can enjoy getting a monthly news-fix with friends and funny people.
This topical show's host and creator is stand-up Gráinne Maguire, who has written for Radio 4’s News Quiz, script-edited Newsjack and appeared on the Now Show. Here she invites guest comedians to argue why their chosen story is the one everyone should care about then woo the audience to vote for it.
During the night’s recent launch, Maguire's guests included Tom Neenan (The News Quiz), Mae Martin (Russell Howard's Good News) and Stephen Bailey (Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side). And the chosen topics ranged from the earnest, such as UKIP’s inclusion in TV debates over representatives from the Green Party, to the frivolous, like format changes to the Canadian version of Survivor.
It was Stephen Bailey who emerged victorious even though he passed over Bloomberg and Reuters to find his news item, instead opting for the pages of Take a Break magazine, where he found a feature about a marriage that had come about due to a fear of social embarrassment. By the end of the evening the audience was convinced that this story was the one with the greatest social and cultural impact.
Definitely promising, the success of these monthly shows does depend on the quality of the guests and their chosen topics. Being live, it also risks falling flat in a way that its topical TV and radio counterparts can avoid. But Maguire has the sharpness of mind to keep things consistent, creating a refreshing atmosphere where you’re just not quite sure what you're going to get.
What Has the News Ever Done for Me? is on once a month at Aces & Eights in Tufnell Park. The next show is scheduled for 19 November and will be pay-what-you-like at the end. And the provisional line-up of Aisling Bea, Brett Goldstein and Bec Hill looks great.
By Ben Venables