A comedy draw…

We’re all down with charity, right?

Giving over our money. And if not cash, then our time to help people less fortunate than ourselves?

Comedians are in high demand by charities to perform at fundraising events. Some offer to pay for said services but most do not and I usually base my decision on my availability and the worthiness of the cause.

There being a hierarchy of good causes that we broadly adhere to.

The fatal diseases obviously rank high and are compounded when associated with children. Tangible effects and deprivations also; homelessness, blindness, Parkinson’s Disease and EB of course, a disease that The Brothers Trust is determined to shine a much needed light on.

Odd then that this week I found myself performing for nix to raise money not for a children’s hospice but for a children’s theatre company.

Raising money then, not for children who are dying – but for children who are dying to act!

Listen, I love the arts as much as the next bloke, but as causes go?

‘We need to raise £700,000 more of our £4m target…”

…went the leaflets of the theatre company that happens to be in one of London’s wealthiest suburbs.


But I agreed with good reason.

An old friend had asked me – the avuncular stand-up comedian cum thespy actor, Omid Djalili who I like and enjoy working with. It was a Monday night and reasonably local for me. I had nothing else on and yes, I am happy to help the arts. After all, it is the area where I have worked all my life. It has been good to me (in-part) but very good to my offspring.

So, I said yes and inked the date in to my diary – or more accurately, keyed it in to my phone.

Such charity gigs and their success are dependent on the audiences they can attract. More important even than the acts appearing because no matter how funny they are, they aren’t much good in an empty room – which is why charity gigs need acts who can shift tickets – ‘draws’ as we call them.

Insufficient bums on seats makes laughs scant and revenues thin – and without running myself down, despite my best efforts over the years, I am more ‘bill fill’ than ticket selling headliner.

But no worries of an empty room at this event – since Michael McIntyre no less, had been collared and also agreed – and  explains why seats in the first six rows of the stalls were priced at a princely, £150 each.

No pressure then (on me, anyway) and on with the show…

I am on first (‘bill fill’, remember) in the packed venue (600 people) – my opening line went as follows…

Thank you all for coming along tonight… to see Michael!

Which was greeted by a telling laugh. And who can blame them – Michael McIntyre fills arenas in every speaking city from New Zealand to LA and everywhere else in-between.

I hadn’t worked with him for years and not since he has moved his gigs in to aircraft hangars – and with good reason. He has funny bones and does what he does with aplomb.

And dare-I-say-it, the show was a hit. Even the ‘bill fill’ delivered. Many laughs were had and much needed funds raised to ensure a steady supply of ‘actors darling’ in leafy South West London. Thank goodness.

And speaking of such gigs, I recall a charity gig at The Comedy Store. Again, a Monday night and with a bill packed with big hitting comedy names. Again, I was on early.

Before showtime, I was trying to establish who the gig was for. It was all a little oblique.

The audience looked very well heeled. You know the types? Lots of floppy haired Hugo’s, and Milo’s and an equal accompaniment of Ophelia’s and Jocasta’s.

A bloke from the charity came in to the dressing room. He was more chap than bloke and looked as though he’d never been in a room as grubby as The Comedy Store dressing room.

‘Who’s the money going to?’ I asked, not unreasonably.

He flicked his thick mane – looked down at me (what is it with posh people being so tall?) and began…


I usually bristle whenever an answer begins with so…

“…we are a series of City firms, right. You know, financial outfits: hedge funds, asset managers, you know…”

No, not really, I wanted to say.

“…and basically we’re raising money for people who are less fortunate than ourselves.”

And thereby presenting me with the opening line of my forthcoming set…

“Good evening everybody. Here we are. A room full of City professionals – and you’re raising money for people less fortunate than yourselves?”

This was greeted by a murmur of virtuous agreement. I guess, a sort of collective, ‘yah.’

“But isn’t that everyone?” I add cheekily and with this flattering insult…


A massive release, a huge laugh and a fair degree of self-congratulation also.

And finally on charity gigs, rumour has it, Mrs H has plans for a Brothers Trust comedy show next year and in a proper theatre – which will need some big comedy hitters if she is hoping to fill the place.

And some ‘bill fill’ also of course. And not getting ahead of myself but I have my suspicions that I might be asked to take part – and whether I agree, really depends on my availability and how politely I am asked.

We’ll see…




23 thoughts on “A comedy draw…

  1. Nicole Traceski says:

    I love comedy shows. I normally dont go to the big headers to the big gigs, I prefer the smaller guys. Often times they have better jokes. Would love to see you live someday! . We have this small comedy club here in Colorado Springs called Looneys and I used to frequent it because I love the smaller crowds amd smaller comedians. I love that you do stuff that speaks to your heart and your spirit.

    • sharon wicks says:

      Amazing antidote..a true comedian can think off the cuff, given that you were doing a gig without any prior knowledge of the audience and you still smashed it. I do get exasperated when I see a comedian doing the same jokes year after year!!!! well done with the brothers trust success too…I know the dog collars are successful because I can’t get one!!

  2. Lorraine says:

    It must be hard to decide who you give your time to Dom as you and the family are so involved in The Brothers Trust. The input into your own charity impacts on so many lives and enables so much good to be carried out in the Holland Family name. It’s nice to be invited to star alongside Michael McIntyre too☺️ I’m sure your presence will be requested for the next gig and that you will be asked (cajoled) into appearing always for a good cause. Best wishes for the week ahead. I’m waiting for the delivery of Eclipsed and looking forward to reading it over Christmas ☺️

  3. Erin Hayward says:

    Do love a good comedy performance. I’ve seen Dara ó Briain twice with my family and we had tears streaming from our eyes, he was amazing! If you’ve seen his sketch about VR you know just how hilarious he is!
    Would love to have a show on for the brother’s trust, I would absolutely be in line for a ticket! Granted I can afford it that is!

  4. Gem says:

    I would love to be at a Brother’s Trust charity comedy night. Please let me know the when and where and I’ll do my best to be there. I read there are some younger Holland’s who think they can follow in their father’s footsteps…..

      • Andra Jenkin says:

        Thank goodness someone is getting actors off the streets, otherwise they scatter themselves about the place in an untidy fashion and threaten to busk, which is all fine and dandy until miming breaks out.
        You’re saving the environment from such a terrible fate, well done you.

  5. Pamela says:

    Love the blog as usual! Hopefully some day I will have the pleasure of being in the audience of one of your “gigs”!! Saw your post on the book! Anxiously waiting for it to become available! Great cause and happy to help in any way I can!!

        • Dom says:

          apologies for the typos – which I am harangued about from time to time. A project for 2020 is to iron out these glitches and make it available as a print book also – and to include a major editorial note which was given to me when the project was about to be a film! I think I will publish it also as The Fruit Bowl – its original title.

  6. Paul says:

    another good blog.. this time of year brings special attention to people in need – be it financial, medical, or simply companionship. My office has ‘adopted’ several families for the holidays – taking their lists to Santa and making them all a reality. This is in addition to “Toys for Tots” and The Salvation Army, both of which have been long-time favorites of mine. And now adding The Brothers Trust to the list – doing great things around the world.

    Hoping to make it across the pond again next year for any comedy event hosted by The Trust with you as the headliner, not the ‘bill fill’.
    Happy Holidays

    Can’t say I’ve heard of the comedians you mentioned, besides yourself of course, but it sounds like you’re in great company.

  7. Regina says:

    It’s times like these I wished I lived in England. Would have loved to see you and Michael McIntyre in the same show! Or just at all.

    • madsonali says:

      That is ok. you can have M&Ms wherever you are till then.. And they are colorful as well, not all chocolaty n browny.. I think everyone loves it.

        • madsonali says:

          Please refer to Regina’s comment as my comment!! England replaced by Tennessee highway. well, would I be 35000 pounds if I eat 35Kpounds of M&Ms or more or less.?? I wonder. Thanks Dominique for giving us the platform to spread the news!!!! I wish I could tag so many school friends here..

          • madsonali says:

            May be we should keep some for Mrs H , so she can distribute it and it will be fill bill. so her makeup budget won’t be ruined… Only the transportation expenses that she will have to bear or better Mr. H! I think he is well equipped with such expenses in addition to makeup and whatnot…

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