Maria Kempinska’s journey from a budding entrepreneur to the “Queen of Comedy” is nothing short of remarkable. She embarked on her illustrious career with a sheer determination, passion for the arts, and a mere £300 overdraft. By 2000, this determination saw her company, Jongleurs Comedy Clubs, soar to a valuation of £30 million. In the early ’80s, Maria’s entrepreneurial spirit was already evident. To fund her performance skills classes in 1982, she engaged in diverse ventures from promoting acts in Edinburgh to selling fire extinguishers, dance classes, and shirts. However, her vision was clear. That same year, she conceived the idea for Jongleurs, which would become one of the UK’s pioneering comedy clubs. Come February 1983, she witnessed the grand opening of the Jongleurs Comedy Club in Battersea to a sell-out crowd. As Maria began curating a diverse range of talent, she cultivated a massive databank of comedians that included legends like Eddie Izzard, Jo Brand, Stephen Fry, Michael McIntyre, and Sarah Millican. Her role extended beyond talent scouting. From 1983 to 2013, Maria helmed the position of Creative Chair & Brand Development, giving Jongleurs a distinct voice and identity in the comedy arena. Her involvement was all-encompassing: from new club openings to establishing crucial relationships with managers and agencies. Over time, Maria became synonymous with the Jongleurs brand. Her media engagements ranged from being the spokesperson for women in business and comedy to creating press
opportunities for the brand. Her influence in the comedy world was recognized when she was aptly named “The Queen of Comedy.”
In terms of organizational structure, Maria oversaw diverse departments from accounts, sales, finance to website design and content creation. She was also responsible for the development and training of the show management team.
Her prowess in the field was evident in her role as Head of Communication & PR. Maria graced editorials and became a top 100 power influencer in Time Out. Publications like The Evening Standard, The Times, and Financial Times showcased her journey. Moreover, she made frequent appearances on numerous BBC TV and radio shows. As a TV show producer and executive producer, Maria collaborated with various production companies to bring acclaimed shows like “Cabaret from the Jongleurs” (1985), “Jongleurs Live” (1995), and “Live from Jongleurs” (2010) to audiences worldwide. Maria’s keen eye for opportunity led her to introduce three major investment ventures and spearhead negotiations. By 2017, she expanded her portfolio with Kempinska Media and Kempinska Comedy. Her recent venture in 2023, Brentford Wellness Centre’s “Comedy for Thought,” showcases her commitment to mental wellness.
Beyond her business ventures, Maria’s educational background is profound. She holds a Teacher Certificate in English and Drama from Philipa Fawcett College and a Drama Therapy Certificate from Roehampton University. Her relentless pursuit of knowledge saw her acquire an MA in Psychotherapy & Healing from Middlesex University, undergo training in Mediation & Conflict Resolution at Regents University, and complete a PhD in Psychoanalysis at Essex University. In 2009, Maria’s exceptional contributions to entertainment and leisure were recognized with an MBE.
Maria Kempinska’s legacy in comedy, business, and education stands as a testament to her passion, resilience, and unmatched expertise. Her journey from selling shirts to building a comedy empire is an inspiring tale of perseverance and vision.