SCOTLAND'S most celebrated comedy venue is coming to Toon later this month with a plan to stamp its own inimitable brand of idiosyncratic humour on a fun-loving North-East public.

The Stand Comedy Club have decided to extend their stand up empire, beyond the Glasgow and Edinburgh strongholds and set up camp just south of Hadrian's Wall, on High Bridge Street in Newcastle, as it happens .

From there, they're planning to confront the North-East's natives in the field of comedy combat by sending in their most decorated officers of laughter.

Frankie Boyle, Phill Jupitus, Rory Bremner, Johnny Vegas, Mark Thomas and Sarah Millican are just a few of the nation's favourite funny people lined up to perform at the club's acclaimed new spot. And Gavin Webster, arguably the North-East's premier stand up performer, has hailed The Stand's decision to open a club in his home town, after treading the boards of their Scottish venues since it first opened in 1995.

"The Stand opening in Newcastle is the news I've been waiting for, for years," said the Wallsend wit, who will compere his own show, Gavin Webster's Northumbrian Assembly, every Sunday at the venue. "Since the beginning of the post modern comedy circuit, Newcastle has been a major player. From the days of the Near the Knuckle Comedy Collective; to the original Comedy Cafe; to the early days of the Hyena - it was always a city that had a great comedy club.

"It was no mystery as to why interesting and original acts used to emerge from the Tyne Valley. And just like other walks of life, the industry and ingenuity of the people of this area shone through. However, there was never a seven day a week club like there is in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Once again it's not rocket science as to why loads of great acts have emerged from Scotland. It's because of the breeding ground for innovative comedy was created by The Stand. Also the Edinburgh and Glasgow Stand are the best rooms in the country to play bar none."

But, while The Stand's decision to set up a base in Newcastle has been largely welcomed, does it mean the end for the city's other comedy venues?

Jongleurs play their last gigs in Newcastle this weekend; while other clubs have made it known they are still struggling to attract customers.

Yet Webster is optimistic they can all survive, despite the present pessimistic economic outlook.

He said: "I don't think The Stand would adversely affect something like the Grinning Idiot clubs. These are a set of clubs run by John Smith - a proper comedy fan and an enthusiast of the art form. I reckon they can only enhance each other.

"Healthy competition isn't a bad thing at all and it helps keep us comedians in work. It's watching Lego-haired students in t-shirts talking rubbish on TV panel shows that is giving our trade a bad name."

Smith added: "The Hyena will survive as it is the longest established club. It attracts stags and hen parties and those celebrating Christmas and birthday parties. The Grinning Idiot and The Stand both avoid that type of audience so hopefully there'll be enough room for both of us.

"It shouldn't affect my business as I already have an established following. I only really run a couple of nights a month in Newcastle, anyway, at the Tyne Theatre and The Live Theatre. I run more comedy outside of Newcastle: in Sunderland, Gateshead, Morpeth, South Shields, Washington and Whitley Bay."

But will The Stand be able to recreate its authentic Scottish ambience and success in Newcastle?

"There's a lot of comedy in the Newcastle area at the minute so it'll be interesting to see how it works out," said the Grinning Idiot promoter, who has attracted Michael McIntrye, Tom Stade, Sarah Millican, Reg D Hunter and Angelos Epithiemou to his clubs this year. "They put on decent bills and support emerging local talent and generally run good shows, so they have a chance of being successful. They have a good central location, but it is quite close to the Bigg Market, which I would imagine is the antithesis to the type punter they're trying to attract. I don't envy them trying to fill it out six nights a week as I know how difficult it is to fill venues a couple of nights a month, but best of luck to them.

"Their Scottish gigs are lovely and if they could recreate that in Newcastle that would be great but only time will tell. I'd argue my gigs provide at least an equal if not a more supportive environment, all be it on a less regular basis. But the reason I am less regular is that I don't believe the demand is there having tried to go more regular last year. There are plenty members of the public willing to go and watch an act they know on TV at City Hall or at the Arena but are less willing to give a comedy club a try which is where the TV names spawn from."

The Stand will also provide a bar and bistro seven days a week as well as encouraging the North-East's up and coming art fraternity. The club is keen to tap into this source of creative talent and is offering their artist neighbours a chance to exhibit and sell their works, commission free.

Martin Mor hosts the first evening on October 27 with Carl Donnelly, Mary Bourke, Simon Donald and Tony Jameson supporting and doors open 7.30pm. For more information contact Dave McGuire, or call 08446933336, 0131 5587373 or check the website