20 January 2023

Wagga Comedy Jam is opening up the mic for a laugh

| Michael Hargreaves
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Adam Harley is opening up the mic to aspiring comics. Photo: Supplied.

Riverina comedian Adam Harley is determined to introduce Wagga to the raw edge of local laughs with his new open-mic Wagga Comedy Jam.

At the Union Hotel on the last Thursday of every month, punters can get in free and sample a mixed bag of performers looking to try out something new.

“People can come along and tell a joke on the night to test the water. You can sign up in advance for a longer set if you’re daring, but it’s also an opportunity for the more established comedians in Wagga, Albury and Canberra to come and test out their sets before performing at a paid gig,” Adam explains.

“It’s a bit of an adjustment for the audience if they’re expecting a polished show, but the payoff is that they could be experiencing the next Becky Lucas or Jim Jefferies in the making.”

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Adam’s new comedy room adds to the burgeoning local comedy scene spearheaded by Dane Simpson, who has brought headline acts to the region through his Riverina Comedy Club.

“Dane has done an incredible job sparking Riverina’s interest in comedy,” Adam says.

”It’s not something that has happened overnight, but he and Eleanor (Dane’s wife and business partner) have done amazing work in growing Wagga’s comedy scene and bringing big Australian comedians to our city.”


Dane Simpson has pioneered the local comedy scene. Photo: Supplied.

Dane himself is full of praise for Adam’s new initiative.

“I love it! It’s such a great show,” he enthused.

“Also, I’m very proud of what the guys have created in such a short amount of time.

“Six years ago, we went through the hard slog of trying to start a comedy scene in Wagga Wagga and having the Wagga Comedy Jam being successful is a great indicator of our accomplishments.”


Christopher Knack has worked with Adam to establish the new comedy room. Photo: Supplied.

Adam says the idea for an open-mic room emerged last year as the world was reopening after COVID.

“There was a lull in comedy shows in Wagga for a while and myself and other comedians were travelling to Albury regularly to attend Josh Liston’s ‘3rd Sunday at 6’ open mic,” he says.

“Many were in agreement that it would be great if Wagga also had a comedy open-mic event.”

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The first Wagga Comedy Jam was held at the Union Club Hotel in September last year and has continued on the final Thursday of each month.

“The Union have been fantastic in offering their support to a performance that isn’t your usual live band,” Adam says.

“They’ve offered their entire upstairs area on a Thursday night and bar staff to serve the crowds food and drink.

“It’s also free entry, so if you’re down in the main pub, there’s always an opportunity to walk upstairs and check out what open-mic comedy is all about.”

Adam says it’s a challenge to get punters to come and support open-mic comedy, but he’s optimistic.

“Each month we are building our crowd numbers,” he says.

“We’ve had Dane introduce comedy as a performing art form to the Wagga masses and they know what a fun night it can be.

“I think we are now adding to that with a true open-mic experience.”

comedy show crowd

Audiences have been growing since the room was established in September 2022. Photo: Supplied.

Adam says the highlights so far have been seeing fresh talent emerge and gain confidence.

“Take Dolly, for example. Her first time doing stand-up comedy was at our very first Comedy Jam @ The Union show in September 2022.

“She’s an extremely talented musician and decided to try her hand at comedy and was a natural at stand-up as well.”

The aim is to keep building the Wagga comedy scene with new comedians and a variety of performances.

“Bringing in more people to experience what a fun night an open mic can be and continue the friendships we’ve all made with the Albury, Canberra and the comics in other parts of Australia,” Adam explains.

And finally, what makes a good joke for Adam?

“A good joke to me is a story that takes me on a ride and something totally comes out of left field when you get to the destination!”

Wagga Comedy Jam is at the Union Hotel on the last Thursday of every month and you can follow it on Facebook here.

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