By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Laughter Factory co-founder Gail Clough said that faced with negative headlines, many UAE residents are out "to have a laugh"
Dubai’s Laughter Factory comedy club has seen attendance spike amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, with many local residents headed to the club “to have a laugh” and escape the non-stop and often concerning news about the outbreak, according to co-founder Gail Clough.
Established in 1997, Laughter Factory, the Middle East’s longest-running comedy night, holds comedy events at a number of events in the UAE, including the Movenpick JBR, Studio One, Dukes the Palm and the Grand Millennium in Barsha.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Clough said she has noticed an immediate uptick in demand for tickets amid the coronavirus epidemic.
“We’re so up, like 30 percent,” she said. “Comedy fans are quite wild cards. Our audience tends to be quite rebellious, a bunch of mavericks. They want to kick back and have a laugh.”
On March 5 and 6, the Laughter Factory held two events at the Movenpick JBR and Studio One Hotel in Studio City – featuring well known comedian Dominic Holland - which Clough said saw more demand that could be accommodated.
“We were sold out,” she said. “I probably turned away more people than I let in.”
In a previous interview, Clough said that Laughter Factory events average approximately 175 guests per evening, with a combined total of about 16,000 each year.
However, Clough said that another event, scheduled to be held at the Park Rotana in Abu Dhabi was cancelled.
“We’re smashing the numbers with this [in Dubai] but now they’re cancelling in Abu Dhabi,” she added. “But Dubai’s going strong. Takes more than a bit of snot to come between us and a night out.”
According to Clough, attendance at the Laughter Factory and other comedy events tends to spike in times of negative headlines, both in the region and around the globe.
“[In such times] people just need cheering up. It’s a certain type of person that comes to live stand-up,” she said. “They tend to be quite free-spirited and these sorts of things bring them out of the woodwork. The most money that we ever made was in the 2008 crash.”
In Dubai and other parts of the region, numerous events have been cancelled over coronavirus concerns.
Late last week, for example, the UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation announced that it has postponed its current calendar of sport events and activities until further notice.
In nearby Bahrain, the F1 Grand Prix – the second race on the motor sport's calendar – will be held without spectators between March 20 and 22.