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Black British comedy brand celebrates 15 years with tour

DOWN TO BUSINESS: Sammy Nelson (left) and Nathan Wilkins, directors of Real Deal Comedy Jam

A BIRMINGHAM comedy outfit is celebrating a double anniversary as its national tour continues, with dates coming up in Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham.

The Real Deal Comedy Jam (RDCJ) has clocked up over 100 shows since it formed 15 years ago.

Feeling frustration at being excluded from the nightlife in the Second City at the turn of the century, local clubber Sammy Nelson saw an opportunity.

“Our focus at the time was actually exclusive parties not comedy. As young men we enjoyed a good night out, but at the time Birmingham was not catering for people like us and seemed to be openly excluding us from entering their venues.”

Teaming-up with friend and fellow visionary Nathan Wilkins, the duo decided to put on their own nights.

“The nights proved to be really popular. As our reputation spread we were approached by a comedy promoter to deliver shows in the Midlands. We did this once and although the night was a huge success we knew we could do better by putting our own stamp on it. It was at that moment that we decided to launch the Real Deal Comedy Jam.”

INSPIRATION: The Real Deal Comedy Jam brand was inspired by comedians such as those featured on the BBC's The Real McCoy

Inspired by America’s Def Comedy Jam empire and the '90s black British sketch show, The Real McCoy, some of the Real Deal Comedy Jam’s early shows featured stars from the programme.
Although the likes of Leo Muhammad, Curtis Walker and the late Felix Dexter no longer have weekly slots on terrestrial, free-to-air television, the black British comedy scene is alive and well.

“When we first started, there were about ten comedians that the industry relied on in this country but now we have some amazing talent coming through. Similar to the evolution in hip-hop, these young comedians have harnessed the power of social media to become brands in their own right. I would say now the scene easily has at least 40 really talented and funny comedians, including really strong ones coming through here in Birmingham too like Smash, Rem Conway and Shirrine Stewart.”

Social media is proving a happy hunting ground for the likes of Mo the Comedian and White Yardie, who have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, while offline, Kane Brown, Rudi Lickwood, Kat B and the aforementioned Curtis Walker continue to attract huge followings, as does Richard Blackwood, who despite adding theatre and now a part in the BBC soap EastEnders to his credits, Nelson reports, is “still 100% part of the comedy scene.”

Working with these names are just some of Real Deal Comedy Jam’s proudest achievements during its 15-year run.

“Bringing over huge stars like Kevin Hart and Deon Cole, also having our own series on Flava TV are things we are really proud of. We are taking our brand of comedy and opening it up to the mainstream market,” continues Nelson.

Real Deal Comedy Jam’s national tour is now underway, with dates coming up in Leeds (October 6), Preston (October 14), Birmingham (October 29) and Nottingham (November 3) featuring the likes of Rudi Lickwood, Toju, Quincy and Lateef Lovejoy. Real Deal Comedy Jam will also be touring at Christmas. For tickets, click here.

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