Wellington's VK's Comedy and Blues Bar closes

Vaughan King was a comedian for 17 before he decided to open up his own comedy club on Dixon St in February, 2015. Now, ...
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Vaughan King was a comedian for 17 before he decided to open up his own comedy club on Dixon St in February, 2015. Now, he's closing its doors.

VK's Comedy and Blues Bar, Wellington's only permanent comedy club, has closed down.

The Dixon St bar, situated in the old The Big Kumera site, held its very last stand-up show to a full house on Wednesday night.

Since opening two years ago, the venue hosted many of New Zealand's top comedians, including Rhys Darby, Dai Henwood, Urzila Carlson, as well as international stars like David Koechner (Anchorman).

Dai Henwood, who started his career in Wellington, says the closing of VK's is sad but will not stop him performing in ...
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF

Dai Henwood, who started his career in Wellington, says the closing of VK's is sad but will not stop him performing in Wellington.

Several comedians have paid tribute to the venue, with Auckland-based Wellingtonian Henwood​ calling it the "hub" for Wellington comedy.

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"It was a wonderful while it lasted, but running a full time comedy venue had never happened before, so that in itself was an experiment," ​the Family Feud host said.

Comedian Urzila Carlson who lives lives in a 1950s four-bedroom bungalow in Henderson, Auckland.
GUY RYAN

Comedian Urzila Carlson who lives lives in a 1950s four-bedroom bungalow in Henderson, Auckland.

"Vaughan [King], who ran it, put so much blood, sweat, and tears into it, and while it was running, it was an amazing venue."

Urzila Carlson said she was devastated at the news.

"It was such a great venue. I've performed there a few times and every single time the audiences were amazing!

Cori Gonzalez-Macuer says Wellington had never had its own dedictaed comedy club before VK's, and he's sad to see it go.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Cori Gonzalez-Macuer says Wellington had never had its own dedictaed comedy club before VK's, and he's sad to see it go.

"The venue was set up in a way that catered to both the performer and the punter, that's rare to find in a venue but because it was set up by a comic for comics it had the full package.

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"It's sad that Wellington won't have a dedicated comedy club anymore, but the strong foundations that VK's managed to help build in the time it's been there will serve the industry for years to come."

Cori Gonzales-Macuer (What We Do in the Shadows) said he was sad to see the club go.

Billy T Award nominee Alice Brine has great memories performing at VK's.
SUPPLIED

Billy T Award nominee Alice Brine has great memories performing at VK's.

"Apart from Vaughan being one of my really good friends, Wellington hasn't really had anything like it before, a dedicated comedy club, and I go there quite a bit.

"So it's sad to see it go, but it was good while it lasted I guess.

"The amount of people who have come through it and who have moved to Auckland who started there, that alone makes it a success."

Comedian Alice Brine said the Wellington comedy scene worked really hard to get behind the club when it kicked off.

"It's not a reflection of comedy, live comedy is thriving and getting bigger and bigger," she said of the closure.

One of her favourite memories from the bar was when actor Adam Scott, writer of Parks and Recreation, saw her stand-up show there.

"He came to my show I did with David Koechner, he shook my hand and told me I was very funny. I can retire now whenever I want. That was at VKs," Brine said.

Rob Harris, a comedian and producer of The Medicine stand-up show, said he was sad to see Wellington losing its dedicated comedy venue.

"I'll miss having the dedicated space to hang out with all the comics after the shows and just have a general good time," he said.

"There will still be plenty of comedy happening in Wellington, we've got a great group of comics who show such outstanding talent, I'm very proud to consider myself part of the scene."

VK's owner, comedian Vaughan King, wouldn't discuss the exact details of why the club was closing, but said it was a shame for New Zealand comedy, and definitely for Wellington.

He said his time at VK's had been a lot of fun, but that he didn't see himself running a bar again.

"It's hard work being a small business owner, that's a wake up call," he said.

"From being a comedian for 17 years, through to owning a bar, is definitely one way to upskill and make yourself way more employable than ever before."

He was looking forward to running comedy in the future and getting back on stage himself.

"The industry is my passion and I've got some future comedy projects I'll be dabbling in a few months," he said.

As for the future of Wellington comedy, "I hope people look after it," he said.

A spokeswoman for the New Zealand International Comedy Festival said the news of the venue's closure was disappointing for Wellington comedy but that it was unlikely it would affect the festival as potential acts would perform at other venues.

 - Stuff

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