Neil Mullarkey, Kit Hollerbach, Paul Merton, Mike Myers.
The Comedy Store Players were born on October 17th 1985, at the old Leicester Square venue. The team that night were Kit Hollerbach, Dave Cohen, Neil Mullarkey and Mike Myers.
A month after that opening night Paul Merton joined the line-up.
They were only allowed to do the second half of the show - the first half was stand up because it was felt that an audience would have to be lured to see a show where there was no script.
This turned out to be true.
Less than twenty people turned up for that debut performance.
Mike Myers, Paul Merton, Kit Hollerbach, Neil Mullarkey.
Mike Myers and Kit Hollerbach taught Neil, Dave, and Paul, the games that they had played for years in North America, many of which had originated as games for deprived children in Chicago in the Fifties.. Whilst the show has developed and changed over the years, many of these games still form the basic structure. Basically, if it ain't broke - don't fix it.
Soon they were allowed to do the whole evening. Richard Vranch came along in 1986, and quickly became part of the team, improvising the games on stage as well as music when required.
In the summer of 1986, just before Mike Myers returned to his native Canada, the Players went to the Edinburgh Festival and one night Josie Lawrence, an actress who was directing a play there, guested with the team. Soon she was a member.
The team, briefly, had Jeremy Hardy as a member.
Kit Hollerbach, Richard Vranch, Jeremy Hardy, Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Neil Mullarkey.
The Players celebrated their first birthday. The shows were good but the audiences were low. With the continued support of the Comedy Store, the Players kept going.
Gradually the audiences grew. They even started to sell out.
The Players first encounter with TV was a pilot "live" show put together by two enterprising producers from the BBC religious affairs department. It was filmed in St. Albans (because that was where the "Songs of Praise" cameras were) in front of a promenade audience who sauntered over to the stage just as they were finishing their two and a half minutes - and then couldn't hear the team above the noise of their own conversation.
The personnel changed. Sandi Toksvig joined.
Paul Merton, Sandi Toksvig, Richard Vranch, Josie Lawrence, Neil Mullarkey.
And Lee Simpson joined.
Paul Merton, Neil Mullarkey, Josie Lawrence, Sandi Toksvig, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch.
Thanks to the success of the TV version of Whose Line is it Anyway? people were now familiar with our brand of improvisation. Sundays were selling so well that on October 11th 1989, the Players began an experimental season of Wednesday night shows. There was no way of knowing if it would attract an audience. It was a sell out...
The Players embarked on two nationwide sell out tours in 1990 and 1991.
Jim Sweeney joined the Players in 1992.
Paul Merton, Lee Simpson, Neil Mullarkey, Josie Lawrence, Richard Vranch, Jim Sweeney.
The Comedy Store moved location in to it's present home in Piccadilly.
Radio mics replaced the old ceiling mics and they finally got their own toilet backstage.
Jim Sweeney, Paul Merton, Neil Mullarkey, Richard Vranch, Josie Lawrence, Lee Simpson.
The longevity of the Players is due in no small measure to the excellent pool of guests who regularly deputise for any Player who can't do the show. Without them, the Players simply wouldn't survive.
In 1995, Andy Smart, who had guested regularly from the early days, joined the team.
Lee Simpson, Paul Merton, Neil Mullarkey, Jim Sweeney, Richard Vranch, Andy Smart, Josie Lawrence.
On September 28th 2000, the Payers performed for the first time at the Manchester Comedy Store. They appeared there regularly until July 15th 2003.
The Players celebrated their 20th Birthday in 2005.
Lee, Richard, Josie, Jim, Neil, Paul, Andy, plus their fan club The Comedy Store Regulars.
Jim Sweeney retired from performance in 2008 and took up the position of President of the Comedy Store Players.
On the occasion of their 25th Anniversary in October 2010, Guinness World Records officially confirmed the Comedy Store Players show is the world’s longest-running comedy show with the same cast, and handed over an official certificate. Read more on Chortle
Click for photos of Mike Myers’ visit to the Players in 2011
Today, the Players are Josie Lawrence. Paul Merton, Neil Mullarkey, Lee Simpson, Andy Smart, Richard Vranch.