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Staff nights out may feel like a thing of the past, but now a North East comedy collective is stepping in to make sure the traditional corporate Christmas party night can still go ahead from the comfort of home.

Newly launched Felt Nowt Productions is using Zoom to deliver hour-long personalised online comedy gigs so teams can still get together to celebrate, despite COVID-19 restrictions, in a move also designed to support the hard-hit arts and culture sector.

The founding members are well-known players on the North East comedy scene and include Hal Branson, Lee Kyle, Gavin Webster and Lauren Pattison. All have featured variously on BBC, Sky Arts, Channel 4, Radio 5Live and Comedy Central.

The comedy collective’s unusual name is inspired by the catchphrase of North East comedian Wavis O’Shave, who would appear on The Tube hitting his hand with a hammer and saying “I felt nowt!”

A Community Interest Company (CIC), Felt Nowt Productions will reinvest all its profits back into the business, with the long-term goal of taking comedy to communities which might not otherwise have access to it. The team offers discounted rates for charities, schools and the NHS to say thank you for the great work they do.

Hal Branson, one of the founders of Felt Nowt Productions, said: “With the traditional Christmas party now not possible, we wanted to make sure companies could treat their employees to a communal night of entertainment and with this new venture we’re hoping to spread a little festive cheer at a time when people need it most.

“Like many industries, arts and culture have been badly hit. For everyone in our collective, coronavirus has meant we can’t get together in comedy clubs and perform to live audiences. We've had to think creatively which is how Felt Nowt Productions was born - to guarantee work for comedians in the region and ensure audiences can still be entertained from the comfort of their own homes or offices.

“The intention is whether you’re a big corporate, SME or a third sector organisation, anyone can sign up for an evening of comedy and we’ll tailor the content to suit. Zoom offers a new way for us to engage and can be really interactive which is great for comedy too.”

Once fully up and running the six-strong team behind Felt Nowt Productions intend to use this new digital platform to reach new audiences across the North East and Cumbria, including those in more rural areas and through specially designed productions and workshops for schools.

Co-founder, Lee Kyle, added: “Community outreach is one of the things that has fuelled the creation of this as we all feel passionate about accessibility. Everyone deserves a memorable afternoon or night of entertainment - now more than ever.”

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Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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