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Funny business as lawyer Steve turns Watney Market's Thomas Neale 'dead' pub into comedy venue

PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 June 2016 | UPDATED: 17:52 30 June 2016

Steve McCann (inset) invites regualrs at the Thomas Neale pub to come on stage for a turn

Steve McCann (inset) invites regualrs at the Thomas Neale pub to come on stage for a turn

Steve McCann

They laughed at lawyer Steve McCann when he walked into a backstreet boozer in London's East End which he found "on its knees and dead quiet" and promised to turn it into a big comedy venue.

Thomas Neale 1641-99

MP and project-manager, Master of the Mint at Tower Hill, entrepreneur and gambler who developed a pair of dice to prevent cheating at gaming. His projects included developing Shadwell, East Smithfield and Seven Dials as well as land-drainage schemes, mining ventures in Maryland and Virginia and raising shipwrecks. He was also involved in the idea of a national bank, the forerunner of the Bank of England.

But it was no joke—or rather, more a string of stand-up jokes which has turned the fortunes of the Thomas Neale pub in Shadwell’s Watney Market into a popular venue on the comedy circuit in just two months.

He got the landlady’s okay to stage fortnightly comedy nights every other Thursday, like tonight, where he does his own stand-up routine and invites anyone with a funny tale to come up on stage, choosing a champion winner each time.

Now he’s planning a Champions’ Comedy Night on July 14 with cabaret by six London Pearly kings and queens to add to the cockney atmosphere.

“I’m a lawyer by day and comic on the circuit by night,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“I have managed to get a lot of my comedian friends to chip in. Once people hear about what we’re doing on July 14 they do anything to help.”

He has selected the winners of each fortnightly comedy evenings over the past two months for a ‘Memoirs of a Geezer’ special.

“We’ve taken this almost dead pub and turned it around,”he boasts. “It was a quiet old man’s pub with the landlady close to losing it because it wasn’t making money.

“Now the comedy nights are making profit and bringing new people to this unique area of the East End which should be maintained, not simply sold off.”

Steve has a film-company interested in doing a TV documentary on his July 14 bash at the pub in Watney Street, near Shadwell station, which starts around 7pm.

But the 34-year-old funny man isn’t ready yet to give up his day job, as a legal counsel for a high tech Old Street data company.

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