‘This is the perfect time for stand-up comedy’: Laughter Factory's Gail Clough on bringing jokes back to Dubai

The UAE’s long-running comedy series returns this month with five live shows

Gail Clough is the co-founder of The Laughter Factory. The Laughter Factory
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It may feel like it’s been a while since you had a good laugh.

But now is the time to exercise those funny bones once again, with the return of one of the region’s longest-running comedy nights.

On the back of celebrating its 24th anniversary last week, The Laughter Factory is returning with five shows – one of the first series of live performances to take place in the UAE since March.

Headlining will be the two Irish funnymen Danny O’Brien and Peter Flanagan. They’ll be joined by the UK’s Nick Page, for performances at Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach on Thursday and Friday, July 16 and 17; Zabeel House by Jumeirah – The Greens on Wednesday, July 22; and Grand Millennium Dubai Barsha Heights on Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24.

All shows come with dinner and tickets are available from The Laughter Factory's website.

So, how is it going to work?

Gail Clough, co-founder of The Laughter Factory, tells The National that a lot of thought, as well as consultation with the government, has gone into getting these shows off the ground.

All shows will adhere to strict social-distancing measures, with tables holding a maximum of four people and set two metres apart.

To prevent any unnecessary movement in the audience, Clough says the shows will feature a dinner service, with all meals served to tables.

“This is why we are turning the ballroom into a restaurant, instead of having the show in a restaurant. With that extra space we can make sure people are spread apart,” she says.

“This is where the table service helps, too, in that we are making sure no one is moving around when they don’t need to. There is no bar and everything is served to you. This will allow the audience to truly focus on the great comics we have coming our way.”

A comedy-literate crowd

Attention from the audience shouldn’t be a problem. The Laughter Factory has amassed a multigenerational crowd over its 24-year run, and while holding an event amid a pandemic comes with a financial risk, Clough says it’s worth it, if it means bringing a smile to the faces of this loyal following.

"You do hope for the best and I am genuinely interested to see what will happen," she says. "But The Laughter Factory has such an amazing and dedicated audience and I can honestly tell you they are like family. I love every single one of them. And, considering what we are going through, this is the perfect time to do a comedy show. We all need a laugh."

Having such a seasoned audience also sets the bar high for the international guests on the bill. Simply put: cliched material about ordering from Starbucks and tired comic tropes won't cut it on The Laughter Factory stage.

“In the industry, our audience is described as ‘comedy literate’,” Clough says. “And the comics actually love that. It gives them the freedom to try their more clever material that they couldn’t do if they were performing to a totally new crowd.”

That said, Clough admits the new run of shows will be bittersweet as Abu Dhabi is omitted from the run. With shows having been held at the Park Rotana for the past 10 years, Clough hails the city's crowds as the most fervent of The Laughter Factory family. She promises performances will return to the capital once the government deems it safe.

“I say this honestly, that Abu Dhabi crowds are the best,” she says. “They never miss a show. They are almost like a comedy cult.”

More information is available at www.thelaughterfactory.com