COMEDIAN Lee Hurst will be at Grays’ Thameside Theatre next month – bringing Essex’s “best kept secret” back again.

The Local Comedy Gig sold out within 48 hours the first time the They Think It’s All Over star staged it in Essex, and it’s continuing to prove popular.

I chatted to the 56-year-old at his home in Kent, as he made dinner (“I’m not Masterchef, I’m just putting a couple of pizzas in!”) for his wife and himself.

And he couldn’t hide how chuffed he was at the success of his show. But what’s it all about?

“I had no idea it was going to take off like this. I’m loving it,” he enthused. “It’s great for the comics because the circuit has contracted. So, this is good because I’m actually giving work to comics, and I hand pick all of these comics, they’re people who’ve played my club down the years, several have supported me on tour as well, and it’s three different comedians every time.”

The Local Comedy Club now goes to four Essex spots (in Braintree, Chelmsford, Rayleigh and Grays) and six places in Kent.

“I called it the local comedy club because it just does what it says on the tin,” he explains. “It’s local comedy club wherever it happens to be, because it’s local to you. You know, you live in Grays it’s your local comedy club. And the M.O is I put on a show, when that’s sold out, I put on another date.”

But how did it come about?

“I was touring the year before last and I was fed up with the driving, like long distance driving, so I decided to do two gigs that were ten minutes from my home and then it sort of spiralled from there,” Lee muses. “And the great thing is, that even Grays, where it is in Grays, I can get there quicker than I can get to my club in Bethnal Green. And that’s why it started off and I’ve kind of kept it - it’s going to sound daft to say because they all sell out – but I’ve kind of kept it low key all through last year and it’s just built and built and built.

“I’m really, really enjoying it. I hadn’t compered for donkey’s years.”

Grays’ Thameside Theatre was actually the first place to host a Local Comedy Gig – and Lee’s been back several times since.

“What I love about the Thameside Theatre is that it’s quite a low stage to the audience, so you’re real close to them, so it really has that comedy club feel about it. The first one I did there last year, sold out in 48 hours. I put it up on the Friday and on the Monday, I was calling Diana at Thameside saying can we put in another date because that’s all gone. The atmosphere, oh it’s fantastic.  “People are always saying it is great value, it’s £10 for tickets. You look at the clubs in London now, they’re getting up to £14/£15 a ticket, plus you’ve got to travel into London from Grays to go and see it. If you’re going to see like a name in a theatre you could be paying £25 upwards, whereas here they get to see three, what I would say, are top quality comics, some of them I would put against any famous comic on TV and defy that famous comic to do better than them – they’re that good.

“It’s like Kent and Essex’s best kept secret. I literally sell the show. And then I put another one on.”

Lee Hurst: The Local Comedy Club is at Thameside Theatre, Orsett Road, Grays, on Friday, April 12. Doors open at 6.30pm. For tickets, go to