It may be the basement of a Crouch End pub, but Downstairs at the King's Head is a favourite venue among comedians and their fans.

Manager Peter Grahame encourages new talent to brave the open mic spot, and also asks established comedians to try out new material there.

Thus, since its opening in 1981, it has attracted the kind of shows you would not be able to see elsewhere on the comedy circuit.

"We wanted to create an atmosphere that supported and celebrated all performance styles, and to ensure that audiences were made to feel welcome and part of the event," said Mr Grahame.

Dominic Frisby is one comedian who loves performing there.

"It's my favourite venue in the UK it has a lovely crowd," he says.

"People laugh more there. Comedians seem to do much better there than anywhere else. It's got a bohemian atmosphere. It's smoky and it has low ceilings. It's slightly leftfield.

"Peter Grahame puts on a lot of acts who wouldn't normally get the chance to perform. And the reaction is always great because people are there specifically to see the comedy."

He loves it so much he jumped at the chance to host a weekly night there two years ago. As a stand-up, compere and character actor, Frisby is a self confessed Jack of all trades'.

If you haven't seen him on TV starring alongside Davina McCall in Sam's Game, or as Captain Rimming beside Pam Anne in Channel 4's Mile High Club, you might very well have heard him.

It was his voice that beckoned you to watch Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Lord of the Rings, or to buy Mller yoghurts, among other products.

Frisby started out as a voiceover talent when he graduated from university at 27.

He sent a tape to an agency and was immediately snapped up. The Londoner's clear pronunciation has the benefit of neither being posh nor broad, which means he appeals to the average man on the street.

"I don't think there's anything particularly special about my voice," he admits. "I don't have a big, plummy voice, I have got an ordinary bloke-next-door' kind of voice. It seems that's what they want."

With a playwright father, it is not surprising Frisby's aspirations moved him more towards performing over selling products on TV.

Studying Italian and drama at university is a good combination if your job requires you to act like foreigners being misinterpreted.

Linguists often have a skill for accents. And Frisby, now 37, admits he finds stereotypes funny.

The humour of his characters like It guy' Simon la Fontaine, farm hand Morris the Morris Dancer, and daft German Ludwig the Bavarian lie in misunderstandings and puns. For example, in one sketch, Ludwig asks for: lager, bitte' at a British pub, and the barman thinks he is saying, larger bitter,' and the confusion escalates.

Frisby also excels in observational stand-up comedy and compering comedy nights, which is an entirely different skill.

"It's the equivalent of being a host," he says. "You have to warm up the audience and you have to think on your feet more."

Frisby is not sure if he prefers stand-up or character acting, but he does admit that an outlandish persona has more potential to make an audience go wild. He gives the examples of Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge and Ali G.

But the bottom line is making people laugh. "The effect of a proper laugh is extraordinary," he says. "It's addictive. It's extremely exciting when you do a new piece and people laugh at that. It's like you are performing for the first time all over again."

u On Saturday, Dominic Frisby introduces Markus Birdman, Barrie Hall, Shappi Khorsandhi, Richard Lewis and Shazia Mirza at Downstairs at the King's Head, Crouch Hill, Crouch End. Tickets are £9 (£7 concessions). For information, call 020 8340 1028.