Comedy is a serious business for Jongleurs clubs as they go global

Comedy pioneer Maria Kempinska is to take her Jongleurs brand global after bringing the company back from the brink.

Ms Kempinska, who founded the comedy clubs 30 years ago, has re-built the brand after the Regents Inns pubs chain, which bought the clubs in 2000, went bust.

Having always retained the rights, she re-launched with branches in Covent Garden, Croydon and over the Sports Café in Piccadilly. At least one new club will open in London this year and she hopes to double the six dedicated clubs outside the capital. Annual audiences are running at nearly 254,000.

And she is now preparing to franchise the Jongleurs brand around the world as well as establishing an agency representing comedians and producing shows for television. She is even to make her own stand-up debut.

“My aim is to become the number one comedy brand globally,” she said. “For the first time I’m thinking we’re almost back and back in a bigger way. Everything we’ve done here we can take abroad.”

For her own comedy debut after three decades in the business, Ms Kempinska has been working with comedian Sean Mayo. “It is incredibly difficult, not just performing but the art of good writing,” she said.

She faces her first audience on May 9 to raise money for the injured ex-servicemen’s charity Soldiering On and will follow it up in September with an appearance alongside Mark Rylance for Outside Edge, which helps recovering drug addicts.

She is also seeking out new comedy talent with a Comic Idol competition being held in rounds across the country and streamed online and through an app, culminating in a final in London.