The Old Vic Comedy & Variety Festival: SSP picks and a nice chat
Andrew Mickel26 June 2012
A new comedy festival starts this Thursday under Waterloo, and it's looking pretty good...
London is spoilt for great comedy the next few weekends – the first two weekends of July bring us the Balham and Ealing festivals, but first up is the Comedy & Variety Festival at the Old Vic Tunnels.
The line-up – which we'll be picking our highlights of below – is ruddy tremendous, and also on one of those 'pay one entry price and eat all the comedy you like' pricing structures, which are rather 'recession friendly'.
BUT BEFORE WE GET ON TO OUR PICKS we're going to bang on about the space: the Tunnels add a real dimension to the proceedings, bringing intimate stand-up to an intimate space right underneath Waterloo Station. We went and saw some comedy play 'things' there in February and it was great: it's hidden, something special, and odds are that your mates haven't discovered it yet.
In short, we're a little excited, to the point we looked up Duke's Comedy bod, festival organiser and former Crossroads star Neil Grainger to talk about it. (We may have Googled him while we were on the phone.)
“We wanted to do something new, so we came up with the premise of non-stop comedy,” says the man you probably know better as Crossroads' Phil Berry.
“There are ten different comedy shows spread over four different rooms, giving the audience the chance to dip in and out of the best in variety and comedy. They even have the chance to try their own hand in the open mic 'bearpit room'.
"We've run nights at big venues before such as at the Tricycle in Kilburn, but this has been our biggest venture to date, primarily because of the sheer scale,” says Neil.
He's not kidding on the scale: there are 80 acts over the three nights. For Neil's money, he's most excited about seeing 'a legend' like Bob Mills. And let's be honest, Win Lose or Draw was pretty bloody good.
Neil again: “I'm an actor by day – I've just finished filming a regular role in Jason Cook's new BBC Two sitcom Hebburn – as are all the Duke's Comedy boys. We met Tom Barrie of [co-festival producers] Boom-Tish! at our voiceover agents' Christmas party, so this is our labour of love. We all love comedy and love putting on shows for people. The bigger the better. All we can hope is that people enjoy themselves..and turn up!"
One last thought before we get stuck into the festival picks: just imagine going to a voiceover agent's Christmas party. So like a regular Christmas party, and yet so utterly different.
Headlining is Scott Capurro (who we chatted with a few weeks ago), comedy's archest eyebrow and most pointed tongue. Quite lucky he is funny, really.
Also of excitement is Luke Toulson – expect danged fine banter and story telling – and the rather shockingly underrated Jigsaw, the Dan Antopolski-featuring sketch troupe who we really need to get around to writing more about in future.
They've also chucked in singing lady extraordinaire Rachel Parris (here's our chat from earlier) and the cracking Jessica Fostekew (who we picked as one of our Edinburgh picks today). And Bob Mills. And lots more.
Patrick Monahan's headlining (our interview over here), the warmest banterer who's broken free of his warm-up roots to become, well, a headliner.
Roisin Conaty (one to watch!) is also on the bill, as is Free Fringe queen Kate Smurthwaite, lovely newbies/spelling-mistakes-in-waiting Celia Pacquola and Tim Shishiodia, and tonight's criminally under-rated sketch act, the gusto-ful McNeil and Pamphilon.
Henning Wehn and Lucy Porter (old-school chat here...) are headlining, while 'hot tips' singing man Thomas Nelstrop and quarter-life crisis haver Jim Campbell, and gallic star Marcel Dubois, are also on the bill. Luke Toulson is also on again. CALM DOWN LUKE TOULSON.
Anyway, that's enough picks, the full line-up of eighty acts and tickets are over here. There's dancing on until 2am too, so we'll be the ones raving it up with Bob Mills in the bearpit room.
SEE YOU THERE.
Your rating: None
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