Well we’re at Fringe, but still no zines of our recommendations and articles from our lovely and talented mates, because money is a little tight. But we’re still going to smash them on here so that when they are sorted we’re good to go.
Today we’ve got a guest article from all round wholesome person Matt Hoss, and why he’s launched his chain of vegan comedy nights (which you can usually catch Thom on).
I'm Matt Hoss, I’m an award-winning comedian, Radio DJ, Podcaster and I'm the head of the Vegan Comedy Club chain called “VIVA LAS VEGANS”. I've been running vegan comedy shows since 2016 and I have created a whole new club sub-circuit with the comedy industry, but with a DIY aesthetic. We do shows in vegan restaurants and we support local vegan businesses, whilst also bringing into a new stream of audience members, most of which have never been to live comedy before.
We do shows from Brighton, all the way up to Edinburgh and everywhere in-between. On top of all of these shows, we also do many arts festivals (like Edinburgh Fringe and Leicester Comedy Festival) as well as doing lots of Vegan Festivals (like Kent Vegan Festival, Maidstone Vegan Festival, Llangollen Health and Wellbeing Festival and many many more).
Lots of you are probably wondering what “vegan comedy” entails and why on earth you would ever want to go. You probably think it is a 2 hour show entirely consisting of broccoli jokes – which it is not (except one time when an audience member in Newcastle challenged me to do so. I accepted and won). Let me explain what we do and hopefully you'll want to come along to, whether you're a plant eater, flexitarian or even a big lover of meat.
So where did Viva Las Vegans all begin from? Well, I remember in Early 2016 noticing a growing number of comedians who were vegans. I thought it would be cool if there was a show exclusively featuring vegan comedians. This intrigued me, so I decided to trial the idea. Our idea was to create a positive space where vegans can relax. Like, when you go to a vegan restaurant, you can drop all your anxiety about being a vegan, instead of being paranoid that someone is going to accidently serve you with something non-vegan. It means that you won't be the butt of the joke, you won't be picked on; because as veganism was growing, jokes about veganism was also growing.
I teamed up with the head of Kent Vegan Events, Jo Kidd (who has always been incredibly supportive) and I got a local vegan restaurant, the exceptional Potato Tomato in Kent, to sell their delicious food. The night came and it was a resounding success. I decided to run another gig, as I built a vegan act database. From there, I started asking venues in different cities and we started growing from there.
You may ask “Hey Matt, is comedy a good way to advocate veganism”? Good question. It depends on how you approach the subject matter, but it certainly can be – yes! With Viva Las Vegans, we aren’t trying to preach, we just want to normalise veganism by having a laugh. We want to break the stereotype that we’re either militant or a hippie. We want to show that vegans are just regular funny people and to demonstrate the veganism is very approachable. I also wanted to do Viva Las Vegans because I’m a very quiet and modest vegan (I promise, despite this article, I don’t talk about it THAT much) and this is way to positive promote a cause I love, but not in an angry way, but in a caring way.
I think it works because we do not operate in a malicious way, so all are welcome; in fact most of our audiences are often a 50/50 split of omnivores and vegans. People expect to be preached at or vindicated. But I think you couldn't get further from the truth. Sometimes people think Viva Las Vegans will be vegan comedy. It’s not. It's just comedy. There are comedians who do talk about veganism in their routines. But they're not required to do it. The same applies to the audience It’s not like you've got be vegan to come in. You'll laugh regardless. We've done shows in Edinburgh at the Fringe and about 70% of the total audience were probably meat eaters. And everyone had a great time.
We actually got 4-Stars from an omnivore reviewer from Broadway Baby last year and I think her review was one of the best reviews that we could hope for as she said:
“'Is it a good idea to link together a group of comedians for a Fringe show based purely on the common thread of dietary choice?' I asked my husband as we took a stroll along George Street to our Fringe venue. 'I’m not sure,' replied my husband. 'Ask me after the show.' …Sadly, just as I’m really waking up, the hour is over. 'So,' I turn to my husband, 'Back to my previous question – what’s your view?' 'Well,' he replies. 'It wasn’t preachy – in fact it was funny and the vegan food was delicious.' I have to say I agree with him – the material was really funny, the delivery great and I wasn’t made to feel guilty at all about the occasional cheeky Nandos.”
It’s just a silly show with a silent compassionate core; and compassion, not only in a vegan way, but as a general comedian, the comedians onstage are some of the nicest and funniest people in the industry. Ultimately we want to have people to have a fun time, and we give that.
So why don’t you come and check us out? We’re running the Viva Las Vegans Showcase at 10.30am (Yes – It’s very early. The accidental theme of the show isn’t “vegan comedians”, it’s “hungover comedians”) at Hendersons on every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the fringe.
On top of that, it’s Free entry and features famous comedians like Carl Donnelly, Vikki Stone, Gein’s Family Gift shop (Editor’s Note - Also Thom Bee). It’s not in any brochure and the venue is a secret (by which I mean I need your help to plug it)
If you wanted to hear more about it – why don’t you either join our Viva Las Vegans Fanclub on Facebook or go to www.MattHossComedy.com and sign up to the Viva Las Vegans Mailing list! It’d be great to have you come to one of our national shows.