British Satire, once the pride and joy of our national comedy scene, has become tired, stolid and predictable, inundated with canned laughter, political correctness, and jokes about Brexit, Donald Trump and the Daily Mail.

The Establishment Club, first dreamed up by the late, great Peter Cook, has been reborn to respond to this dearth of comedic creativity. Fronted by notorious MC Keith Allen, it will take the form of a satirical TV show on RT, showcasing new talent. To find that talent, it’s hitting the road outside the capital, to find bright young things in British Comedy, who would otherwise be obscured by London’s light pollution.

Taking in Bristol on August 9th, followed by Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, the Establishment Club bus will traverse the length of this sceptered isle, seeking nothing but the most cutting and unique takes on the state of the nation.


The more original the better, be it stand-up, song writing or even slam poetry, if that’s what you’re really into. What’s important is that it is original, unflinching, and unsparing in its wit, vigour and bile.

Come along to any of the dates that the Establishment Club bus will be in your city. If you are unable to attend, the Establishment Club is also taking applications online; upload footage of your act in a video file of under four minutes, and send it to this address….


The Establishment Club was opened in Soho in 1961 by Peter Cook. Located in Greek St, it was a strip club with a private membership license. Performances at private clubs were not subject to censorship by the Lord Chamberlain which gave Peter the freedom to present live material and content that would have been forbidden on the traditional stage / radio / tv.

  • It was the first nightclub in London to present live uncensored comedy and cabaret.
  • Peter booked acts that he liked, such as Frankie Howerd, Barry Humphries, Lenny Bruce.
  • They were very loose and chaotic shows, but it soon became the hippest club in London.
  • The club closed after 18 months partly because the Soho mafia were trying to muscle in and were demanding protection money. David Frost (a friend of Peter’s from Cambridge) came along and took the format to the BBC. He turned it into a tv show called That Was The Week That Was, which attracted audiences of 12 million.
  • Peter then co-wrote a touring show called Beyond The Fringe which he took to New York with Allen Bennet and Jonathan Miller and around the world, before settling into a very long term relationship with a stunted East London pianist called Dudley Moore he had become acquainted with at Cambridge.
  • It was Peter’s wish before he died in 1995 to re-launch the Establishment Club, as a haven for satire, writers and off the wall comedy and cabaret performers in the modern world. His widow Lin Cook was acquainted with Victor Lewis Smith who brought in Keith Allen and Mike O’Brien and together they assembled a loose collection of comedians, musicians, writers and cabaret acts with the idea of carrying on the tradition of the Establishment Club.
  • Keith Allen is the club’s MC, and he conducts the live interviews with famous friends and performs live at many of the shows.

Names who have appeared or performed at the Establishment Club are:

Stephen Fry

Richard Dawkins

Jerry Sadowitz

John Cooper Clarke

Mark Steel

The Strypes

David Icke

Arnold Brown

Howard Jacobson

Dickie Beau

Scott Capurro

Terry Alderton

Kim Noble

Jane Bussmann

Lewis Schaffer

Michael Mansfield QC


  • The best acts from each city will be uploaded on the website each week
  • Once the tour’s over our judges will sit down to pick the 5 best performers to get involved in a new satire show inspired by the Establishment Club format, to be broadcast weekly on RT