Big names lined up for Reading Comedy FestivalBy David Millward
September 21, 2011
Big names are coming to town for this year’s Reading Comedy Festival – and the launch event was the perfect curtain-raiser.
The festival itself, which gets underway next week, features comic giants such as Stephen Merchant, Al Murray and Russell Kane.
But the two-week event also includes fresh talent and gives budding comedians a chance to share the spotlight.
Guests attending the launch at Caversham Court Gardens last Friday were treated to a belly full of laughs with performances from veteran and new comics as well as a luxury buffet.
James Mason and Luke Graves represented the modern crowd as a former winner and runner-up, respectively, of the festival’s own new act competition.
And the established performers were Richard Morton, who has toured with Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard, and Paul Foot, who won critical acclaim for his recent Edinburgh shows.
Punters gained sustenance from the all-you-can-eat buffet provided by The Olympia, Shehnai, of London Street, Katesgrove.
Programme manager Charity Gordon said: “We were delighted to launch the Reading Comedy Festival with such a successful, sold-out event. This was the first time we have tried anything like this at Caversham Court and it worked really well.
“The location was beautiful, the food was absolutely delicious and the audiences seemed to really enjoy the night.
“We were lucky enough to be able to programme Paul Foot and Richard Morton, two of the best comedians on the circuit, and they went down a storm.
“I was also delighted to be able to include two of the comics from our previous new act competition.
“The festival is not just all about established names but is also about presenting new and emerging talent and celebrating the vibrant comedy scene here in Reading, which often gets overlooked.”
Stephen Merchant, the writing partner of Ricky Gervais, kicks off the festival at The Hexagon on Saturday, October 1, while over at South Street arts centre The Fitzrovia Radio Hour recreates the spirit of the 40s radio plays complete with live sound effects.
Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, brings his Barrel of Extra Fun to The Hexagon on Sunday, October 2, while Russell Kane explores masculinity in the modern world with his Manscaping show at the same venue on Tuesday, October 4.
The festival also includes Dave Gorman, Neil Innes, Jack Whitehall, Reginald D Hunter, Lee Nelson and Puppetry of the Penis in 3D as well as screenings of Kind Hearts and Coronets and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
Gyles Brandreth will present his One to One Show at the Concert Hall on Sunday, October 9, and wannabe comedians have a chance to make it through to the final showcase on October 13 with heats at Highlights, in Friar Street, tonight and next Wednesday.
For full details, visit www.readingcomedyfestival.com