Reading Comedy Festival starts on SaturdayBy Phil Creighton
September 29, 2011
It's back and it’s about laughs. The fifth Reading Comedy Festival gets under way on Saturday, with a little help from Ricky Gervais’ mate Stephen Merchant.
With everything from big names to newcomers, classic films to genital displacement, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
As well as Stephen Merchant, The Hexagon will welcome Al Murray the pub landlord (Sunday, October 2), Fosters Comedy Award winner and regular on Mock The Week Russell Kane (Tuesday, October 4) and game-playing Dave Gorman, who is launching an unlikely double act with PowerPoint to present a highly amusing show (Thursday, October 6).
Other comics appearing later in the Festival include Reginald D Hunter (Friday, October 14) and Lee Nelson, who closes the Festival on Sunday, October 16.
Lee, presenter of the Well Good Show on BBC Three, last appeared in Reading at The Highlight and will this year be touring with his mate Omelette.
South Street Arts Centre is presenting a wide mix of comics, including a set from the legendary Rutle and sixth Python Neil Innes (Thursday, October 6).
The talented comic singer/songwriter will leave the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band behind for a show that celebrates the absurdities of modern life.
Also appearing will be mind-reading magician Chris Cox (Saturday, October 8, look out for our exclusive chat with him next week), newcomer Iszi Lawrence (Friday, October 7) and local poet and all-round good guy A F Harrold, who will team up with Elvis McGonagall (Thursday, October 13) for an evening of wit and verve, plus amazing poetry.
The Concert Hall is also being used as a venue this year, and will see, among others, sets from Jack Whitehall (Friday, October 14 and pictured left), the star of the new comedy show Fresh Meat, and Irish storyteller Tommy Tiernan (Saturday, October 8).
Film lovers will be able to enjoy two classic comedy movies which will be shown, with dinner, at the Forbury Hotel.
The first is the legendary Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (U, Thursday, October 6).
Starring Alec Guinness in an amazing eight roles, the film featured some revolutionary techniques for the time and is still sharp and witty today.
Then, the ever-controversial but wickedly funny Monty Python film The Life of Brian (15, Thursday, October 13) will get a rare big screen outing.
Starring Graham Chapman as a Jewish anti-Roman activist mistaken for the Messiah thanks to a series of misunderstandings, the cult film is frequently cited as one of the best comedy films of all time.
There’s comedy of an unusual kind thanks to the Puppetry of the Penis gang, which will be back at The Hexagon on Friday, October 7 with a new 3D show.
Audience members receive the special specs to see the outrageous show in the third dimension.
And, of course, the Comedy Festival will celebrate up and coming comics thanks to its annual New Act contest.
The heats, held in conjunction with the Highlight comedy club in Friar Street, will come to a thrilling and competitive climax on Thursday, October 13.
We’ll be profiling the finalists in a couple of weeks’ time and if previous years are anything to go by, you could be seeing the stars of the future.
All the laughs
Saturday, October 1
Stephen Merchant – Hello Ladies .. The Hexagon, 8pm. Merchant takes his considerable stand-up talents on the road.
The Fitzrovia Radio Hour - South Street, 8pm, Mixing the unique spirit of 1940s radio plays with contemporary humour to produce a comic cocktail.
Sunday, October 2
Al Murray The Pub Landlord - Barrel Of Fun Extra - The Hexagon, 7.30pm. Britain’s best-known pub philosopher serves up his own brew of bar room banter.
Tuesday, October 4
Russell Kane: Manscaping- The Hexagon, 8pm. Russell mercilessly explores the ridiculous state of masculinity in the modern world.
Wednesday, October 5
Patrick Monahan - Hug Me I Feel Good - South Street, 8pm. The lovable comic blends a high energy style with hilarious and engaging stories of his Irish/Iranian/Teeside heritage
Thursday, October 6
Dave Gorman’s Powerpoint Presentation - The Hexagon, 8pm. Dave’s formed a double act … with a projector screen. And they’d like to show you their PowerPoint presentation
FILM: Kind Hearts and Coronets (U) - Forbury Hotel, 7.30pm. A screening of the classic film starring Alec Guinness – includes dinner
Neil Innes: Short Stories And Tall Songs - South Street, 8pm. A wry, poignant, humorous and topical one-man show, spiced with anecdotes of his life and times in the worlds of media and show business.
Friday, October 7
Iszi Lawrence’s Wotnot - South Street, 8pm. Packed with quirky, skeptical, daft stand-up that’s just on the right side of tasteless.
Paul Foot: Still Life - South Street, 8pm. Your chance to see one of the UK’s most creative and original comedians
Puppetry of the Penis in 3D - The Hexagon, 8pm. The astonishing and unforgettable ancient Australian art of genital origami is back for a new show.
Saturday, October 8
Chris Cox: Fatal Distraction - South Street, 8pm. Using a mongrel mix of techniques including magic, psychology and lying, Chris Cox will amaze.
Tommy Tiernan – Poot + Support - Concert Hall, 8pm - The Irish comic presents laughs through hilarious story-telling and a high energy show.
Sunday, October 9
Gyles Brandreth: The One To One Show - Concert Hall, 7.30pm. The actor, One Show reporter, former MP and government whip turns stand-up.
Thursday, October 13
An Evening With Elvis McGonagall & A. F. Harrold - South Street, 8pm. An evening of fun with two high calibre comedy-oriented poets.
Reading Comedy Festival New Act Competition Grand Final - South Street, 8pm. Who will be crowned the best new comic of the festival?
FILM: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (15) - Forbury Hotel, 7.30pm. A screening of the classic film starring Eric Idle and John Cleese – includes dinner
Friday, October 14
Jack Whitehall: Let’s Not Speak Of This Again - Concert Hall, 8pm. A set from the British Comedy Award nominee that promises to look at how we learn from life’s mistakes. Or not.
Reginald D Hunter - The Hexagon, 8pm. A new show entitled Sometimes Even The Devil Tells The Truth.
Steve Hall: My Very Still Life - South Street, 8pm. Steve says: “This is a show about achieving things. If I can be bothered to write it.”
Dons of Comedy - The Hexagon, 8pm. Four of the best award-winning comedians come together for this comedy special.
Sunday, October 16
Lee Nelson – Live - The Hexagon, 8pm. Lee writes: “its gonna b bigga, betta + even funnier than my last tour + a lot fatter as well coz this time i’m bringing my best mate + fat legend Omelette!”
For more details on the line-up, log on to www.readingcomedyfestival.com or call the box office on 0118 960 6060.