China – Shanghai
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I will admit to being underwhelmed with the festival choices this year. So much so that instead of the usual 60-70 shows on my ‘to see’ list there is 34. Its a good thing I have a house to renovate at the moment otherwise I would be in serious danger of getting bored this April.
That being said there is still a few good choices out there to be seen.?
Tripod – Men on Substance Yes, for the first time Justin Hamilton doesn’t occupy the #1 spot on my recommendations. (Only because he’s not doing a show) Instead we have the boys from Tripod. Once you get past the middle-aged manflesh on show during the opening number, Men of Substance is one of the finest shows they have ever done. It is certainly their strongest non-narrative show.
Michael Workman – Ave Loretta If you’re looking for a laugh a minute show, this probably won’t be the one for you. If however you like a beautiful, strange and humorous story, give Michael Workman a try. I’ve loved his past 2 shows.
Idiots of Ants – Model Citizens Back for the second year, these lads are very good sketch comedy from the UK. Combining live sketches with some pre-recorded material, I was very pleasantly surprised with a group that I went to see strictly because their name sounded funny.
This is Siberian Husky – The Misery Factory More sketch comedy. I saw these guys for the first time last year and they were very impressive. I haven’t seen sketch comedy so well tied together since the League of Gentlemen. With their only props being a couple of stools and lighting, they still had perfect set ups and quick changes. Last year’s show started funny and by half-way through they were absolutely hilarious.
and the “they’re out there but give them a chance” spots go to.
Barry Morgan – Organ is not a dirty word Do you remember Bob Downe? Good. Now imagine Bob’s cheesiness mixed with an organ salesman demonstrating his wares for an hour and supposedly not realising that when he talks about his organ that there could be another entendre attached to it. Barry’s first show was basically a one joke show, but surprisingly that one joke stayed funny every single time he used it.
Lessons with Luis – Famoucity! This family won the Golden Gibbo last year as well as RAW comedy final. Wil Anderson is one of their biggest fans. I admit right now that Luis and his family won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re the sort of person who will happily go along with something that has the same amateur feel as a primary school play its well worth the trip.
Final note: To be fair I had already planned on having a quiet year. Luckily for me the comedy festival decided to have a quiet one too. —————————————————
SUGGESTIONS FOR AFTER THE COMEDY HAS FINISHED
Trades Hall Bar
Don’t go to the Festival Club (Hifi Bar) unless there is a lineup well worth seeing. Its expensive to get in and to buy drinks, and the majority of people there are only there to either see or be seen. The hottest place to drink and party at the comedy festival these days is the bar at Trades Hall. A lot more space to move, nicer bar staff, and just most nights after the shows have finished there are shows in the bar.
Shhhh… don’t tell everyone, if you are looking for a good place to drink between shows, and don’t want to have to put up with the squashy, noisy hell that is the Peter Cook Bar, head around the corner to the Vic Hotel. Up the stairs on the mezzanine level, they install a small bar during festival time. Its quiet and there are plenty of comfortable chairs to laze around in. This is the best kept secret of the comedy festival so don’t make me regret telling you.
I will admit that I know a few of the comedians I’ve mentioned here. I don’t think that it has influenced me in any great way to put them on the list, there are after all a number of people I haven’t put on the list. I’m basing my opinions on these comedians’ past work, I haven’t seen most of these shows yet, but having seen all these people more than once know that they are consistently good. But people do have different tastes, after all there are people in this world who think Daniel Kitson and Dave Hughes are funny.