Comedy is once again the ‘new’ rock & roll and just as Oxford leads the way in music, so its new generation of jokers are putting the city on the comic map.

At the cutting edge is bi-monthly comedy session ‘A Club If You’d Like To Go’ which brings a selection of hilarious artists to The Castle pub, opposite the Westgate.

Today though, master mirth makers, club founders Jay Corcoran and Ash Hennessy, take things up a gear with a showcase of local stand-up comedy at cocktail bar Cirkus, in George Street.

And the best thing, for those who fancy a giggle, is the evening is free.

Jay and Ash, who have been hosting nights at The Castle on the first and third Tuesday of the month since 2018, are effortlessly hilarious performers in their own right. Long-time friends and housemates, they decided to launch a show of their own when they felt there were more comedians needing stage time than there were venues booking local acts.

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“We wanted to have a night that has a bit of an alternative vibe, a free night run by comics that’s inclusive,” says Jay.

“Also, we hate travelling and neither of us drive!”

The Cirkus show features the talents of rising star Alex Green, formerly of The Oxford Times; Jenny Laville, a writer for BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz, Now Show and Newsjack; and Tara Newton-Wordsworth.

The guests have impeccable records. Jenny has an armful of Best New Comedian awards while Alex last year reached the national finals of the ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ comedy awards for new comedians.

A remarkable performer, with a bone-dry delivery and engagingly self-deprecating demeanour, his tales of misadventure and consequence have made him a live stand-up favourite.

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Jay says: “Alex is one to watch now while at the convenience of your doorstep, because he is going places.”

Tara Newton-Wordsworth, a comedian described as “very talented” by no less a comedic authority than Stephen Fry, is a star of comedy sketch show NewsRevue, and also a director and acclaimed stand-up.

She returns to the mic after some time off to be a full-time mum, and this year takes her debut show, a new comedy called Motherhood, to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Jay said: “We are really excited to put on a show at Cirkus. It’s a great room for comedy and has that nice underground vibe that lends itself so well to what we do. You will not find a better night of comedy for free anywhere in Oxford.”

So what makes a good comedian? “Being brave and having a healthy sense of self,” says Jay. “It helps if you have some good jokes as well!”

And is it terrifying to stand up in front of an audience of strangers? “At first yeah,” he says. “I still get nervous before I go on stage. If it is something you want to do through, you will do it. The real terror is when you are already on the stage and knowing there is nothing you can do to make it work – and you have another 10 minutes on the clock!

“I am certainly not a comic who will tell you they feel the most alive on stage or anything like that. It can be a fairly awkward experience a lot of the times.

“When you’re in a band you rehearse your set in a rehearsal room before you take it to the public. If you’re practising stand-up you have to do it on a stage. And that means you have to fail... a lot!”

A Club If You’d Like To Go’ comedy club is at Cirkus, George Street, Oxford, tonight. Entrance is free but book to reserve at