Prague comedy club and the artist who delivers laughs to locals and foreigners alike

Kristýna Haklová

The English-language Metro Comedy Club in Prague’s Žižkov neighbourhood has become a haven for expats and Czechs in the city who want to stop by for a laugh. I caught up with its leading artist Kristýna Haklová to talk about the club, and her comedy journey.

“I am the co-founder of Metro Comedy Club in Žižkov. We are the first purposefully built stand-up comedy club in the Czech Republic, and we cater mainly to expats. Most of our shows run from Wednesday-Saturday and are in English. We host a lot of comedians from the local scene, but also travelling comedians from all over.”

Wow, incredible. So it’s the first club stand-up comedy club in Czechia?

“Traditionally in the Czech speaking or Czech language stand-up scene, there is no comedy club that would just have stand-up comedy as its main thing, or let alone only thing. There is one being built in Ostrava that will open soon. But in Prague we are pretty unique in that way.”

That's awesome, and I want to ask you how you even got your start in comedy? How did you find yourself?

“I started performing in 2016, and it was something I just enjoyed watching, and back then there were few opportunities to give comedy a try. As a newcomer, I got some feedback when I met some people from Berlin. I started going to Berlin, where their English speaking comedy scene is massive, they have shows on every single night, several shows. In Berlin you can kind of live that New York City fantasy when you go from mic to mic, and you try out little jokes a few times a night. And I was so enchanted by it, I thought, Prague isn't that much smaller than Berlin, we can have a weekly show, we can have a show on every night eventually, and that's what I did.

“I started the first weekly show in 2017 at a bar on Krymská. The show is still there to this day! Every Tuesday there is an English-language show. From that we added open mics and Friday shows, and eventually my friend Katie Andersen told me that she would like to open a comedy club with me. She's an American who lives here because of her Czech wife, she’s a comedian, she loves comedy and she wanted to do something in Prague and so she thought, why not a comedy club? And we ran some numbers and we felt confident that it could work and there would be enough people. Turns out, we were right. We just celebrated our first year of being open, and people really enjoy coming here.”

And I love what you said earlier about how for expats, laughing can be a little bit harder when you're in a country where you don't speak the language and maybe don't get as many jokes. Maybe you can tell me a little bit about how you've been able to form a community for people who aren't from Prague or from Czechia to come and laugh?

“It happened naturally. It's something I noticed as a bi-product, because my intention was to do comedy – and I wasn't thinking about it in terms of “this is a gig for expats” or “this is a local Czech language gig”, because comedy is comedy and I do perform in both languages, so I didn't see that big of a difference. But eventually I noticed that for a lot of the performers and for quite a few of the audience members, coming here is almost a relief for them, because oftentimes they don't have enough people to joke around with, they might be working in a mixed nationality company where not everyone's English, sense of humour, and cultural background matches.

“We have quite a few expats who love coming here on a regular basis so they can laugh with other likeminded people. We even have a few regulars who come here often and don't always go downstairs to watch the comedy. They just like to sit here at the bar and unwind after a work.

“I do find it very endearing to be able to provide this like extra special, funny place for people who feel a little bit displaced. I actually relate to it a little bit because I used to live in New Zealand, so I was an expat myself, and I did find it hard to meet people with whom I can just have a beer after work and chat with, you know. People, are social creatures, it is very important to have these spaces. Even people who are introverts enjoy being in an environment where they understand the language of people speaking around them. I think that it’s fantastic and it’s very dear to my heart.”

Kristýna Haklová | Photo: Jiří Šeda

What do think is unique about Czech humour? Do you add it to your flare and style of comedy?

“I think national or cultural humour aspects are close to who we are as a people. Czech people, and I don't want to generalize too much, but they’re a little laid back. Oftentimes you have a Czech friend in your group who doesn't say much, but when he says something it’s hilarious. It’s like they collect the data, and then they kind of slap you with a joke.

“I think Czech people like dead pan comedy and are not afraid of a dark humour, and I think it just reflects the culture itself. Statistically, for example, Czechs really love Scandinavian comedy because it's on the dark side as well.

“I think if you’re a good comedian, and you’re really good at what you’re doing, jokes transcend borders very easily. So I think there are certain things we are more likely to find funny, but I don't think overall there’s a huge difference in the style of comedy. We have people from all backgrounds and nationalities coming here and we have performers from all over the place, I think it's quite international.”

And I'm curious how it is to be a female comedian here in Czechia?

“It’s very easy. No one complains. No one thinks we are not funny, like I don't encounter people who would think twice about buying tickets because there is a woman performing. I don't really encounter people being surprised by the fact that women are funny. There are quite a few successful female comedians in Czechia, and in my experience, promoters always try to put women in line-ups and make an extra effort to do so because, statistically there are less of them, but they do make an effort. I think most of the line-ups have women in them and multiple women, not just a token woman.

“You could see that just recently. One of the oldest comedy groups here in the country, Na stojáka, has been working in the field for 25 years. The people who book it are old white dudes in their 50s, but they just had a line up at their main gig here in Prague with three women and one man. You know, so no problem at all. People are very supportive and open, and they are quite thoughtful as well. When you they book you, they make sure you get home safe and stuff like that. So as a female comedian I, I feel quite welcome here.”