Performer and producer Maynard Flip Flap is one of the organisers of a unique Sheffield event called Cabaret Boom Boom. Their tagline, ‘jaw dropping, eye popping entertainment’, tells you all you need to know. Based in Walkley, they specialise in visual comedy, theatre, circus performances and all-round entertainment. What’s the idea behind Cabaret Boom Boom […]

Performer and producer Maynard Flip Flap is one of the organisers of a unique Sheffield event called Cabaret Boom Boom. Their tagline, ‘jaw dropping, eye popping entertainment’, tells you all you need to know. Based in Walkley, they specialise in visual comedy, theatre, circus performances and all-round entertainment.

What’s the idea behind Cabaret Boom Boom and how did it get started?

Up a side street, in an out-of-town suburb, is an old liberal reform club soaked in Edwardian charm with a wooden dance floor and a small stage. This building needed some love and some money as it was almost bankrupt. 16 years previous I used to attend a juggling club there and it seemed about time.

The building made a claim to be back at the heart of the community with an active social life. Several of those jugglers had gone on to cut careers in the entertainment world and were involved with a cabaret club in Leeds which ran very successfully throughout the 90s, as well as producing and running alternative comedy nights in Sheffield.

So in 2005, we ran an event at Ruskin Hall on Fir Street, just off South Road in Walkley. This kick-started our first season in 2006. We very quickly found our audience. Shows have been sold out since 2007.

What’s your programme like?

We put on seven cabarets January to April and September to November, with two end of season cabarets at Crookes Social Club in May and December. We also run shows twice a year at Barnsley Civic and are building a similar audience base there.

What makes you stand out from other cabaret groups, in Sheffield or elsewhere?

‘Cabaret’ is a broad term and means many things to different producers. Our version of cabaret is visual comedy with all the trimmings – so much more than just the show. We don’t put on stand up comedians or burlesque, as there are already many places where you can see those acts. At our nights you’ll see circus, magic, musical comedy, illusionists, clowns, acrobats, mischief makers and comic poets. We always have three comperes, we don’t take ourselves seriously, and we often have a crew of over a dozen, which allows us to decorate the space and look after people. We license and run our own bar at sensible prices. Table cloths and fresh flowers, the crew dress for the occasion, and we encourage our audience to dress up too. I’m not sure that anyone runs a regular monthly night like ours anywhere in the country.

Any favourites from the past?

Highlights over the years have been the big names in the cabaret world – John Hegley, Ian McMillan, Les Bubb, Chris Lynam, Barbara Nice, Rory Motion, Steve Rawlings. But I don’t think big names are really what bring folk back to our events. Often people tell me that they don’t want to know what they will be seeing. Surprises are what they want.

Personal highlights include feeling the excitement of the audience as they come into a show, laughing with people – huge, beautiful belly laughs of pleasure – and dancing to our DJ at the end of the night.

We could and probably should have moved to a bigger venue years ago, but cabaret should be intimate and personal. If you can’t see the act’s eyes or the sweat running off them then the venue’s too big.

What have you got coming up?

Our 15 February show is sold out. Tickets are available for 15 March and 19 April. Our end of season event is at Crookes Social Club on 9 May, then the show goes to Barnsley Civic on 10 May. We play the Spiegeltent in Barkers Pool for Festival of the Mind on 19 September, then our autumn season starts on 20 September.

Cabaret Boom Boom

Sam Walby.