Tuesday, 5 February 2013

FESTIVAL PREVIEW #4: The Best of the Rest of the Fest (part 2)

Well hello there. With just 3 days to go until the start of the festival, I hope you're getting as excited as I am about the prospect of over 500 shows over 17 days in our town. To further whet your whistle, here we go with another preview post to help you pick which shows you fancy checking out...

An inventive visual representation of something you can't see: Comedy in the Dark.
UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES - There are plenty of events taking place that take comedy beyond the traditional format of microphone, stage and performer, to delight the senses and amuse the brain with a very new experience. Comedy in the Dark does exactly what it says on the tin - a selection of short comedy sets performed in total darkness. The Red Light Comedy Show takes the brightness up a notch, being an evening of stand-up in the haunted basement of the Town Hall lit entirely by bicycle lights. If cookery shows are your thing, the most amusing one you're ever likely see takes place at Chutney Ivy restaurant in the form of the Comedy Curry Cook-off. Fans of history and heritage (very big at the moment with all this ***King Richard III business) can take a guided walk around Leicester's historical places of interest with a short performance at each venue. Another intriguing prospect is Hotel D'Comedie, in which guests wander the suites of Hotel Maiyango, encountering a different comedian/act in each room, making for an unusually intimate, bespoke series of mini-gigs.

Able Seaman: Alan showcases his Square Mile comedy protégés
JOE PUBLIC - Ever find yourself thinking that regular members of the public are funnier than actual comedians? Well there's plenty of opportunities to test that theory during the festival, in a series of shows that put Joe Public up on stage with the minimum of training to test their comedic abilities. DMU's Square Mile Smiles project has seen local stand-up and captain of Ship of Fools Comedy Club Alan Seaman steering a ramshackle bunch of land-lubbers from the West Leicester area through the murky waters of stand-up comedy - they'll be walking the plank, as it were, on 21st Feb at Newfoundpool Neighbourhood Centre, entry is FREE. Meanwhile at Chutney Ivy restaurant, more willing fools take to the stage after just 6 training sessions to perform a 5-minute set in front of a panel of comedians in Dave Turns the Tables. The event takes place on Friday 8th Feb, and entry is also free. A junior version of this format, entitled School Showcase will be happening at Regent College Studio on 21st Feb (£2 entry), in which pupils from Sir Johnathan North Community College, St Paul's School and Bushloe High School take to the stage to test their comedy mettle.

THIS IS A LOCAL GIG FOR LOCAL PEOPLE - if coming into the city centre after dark fills you with a sense of dread, don't despair - Leicestershire Stands Up is providing a series of gigs at various venues around the county for you rural types. Run by Just the Tonic, the bills will include at least 3 top comics and an MC, at locations including Groby, Kirby Muxloe, Lubenham, Melton Mowbray, Swithland and Whetstone.

Sit down, stand up: Abnormally Funny People.
SURELY THAT'S IT, RIGHT? No, obviously not you fool!! There are still loads of shows I haven't mentioned that may suit your comedic palette, such as Abnormally Funny People - a show in which a group of disabled comics band together to amuse you with their collective wit, and maybe challenge a preconception or two along the way. There is also a seminar on the subject of disability and comedy, entitled Funny Bones, at Embrace Arts on 10th Feb. Or how about Silver Stand-up, which features a selection of fine stand-up comedians competing against one another, the only entry requirement being that they are over 55 years old. Don't forget there's a photographic exhibition taking place at Leicester Train Station throughout the whole festival - entitled Brief Encounters, it features unusual snapshots of comedy performers from the comprehensive archive of Andy Hollingworth. Also taking place throughout the festival is Amuseum Studies at Trinity House & Chapel, featuring locally-flavoured work by satirical cartoonist Woody of Private Eye, Sunday Express & The Independent fame. And last but not least, look out for an invasion of Danish comedians, as DLCF continues its affiliation with Zulu comedy festival - the biggest comedy fest in Scandinavia. Amongst the many Nordic performances this year are the Great Danes series of gigs take place at the Exchange Bar on 15-17 Feb.

In summary then, there's absolutely sh*tloads to choose from, so get booking those tickets and laugh yourself silly between Fri 8th and Sunday 24th Feb! I have one more preview post in the bag, in which I will detail some of the shows that our local Leicester folk are putting on during the fest - look out for that in the next day or two, and I also have a couple of special interviews to write up, in which I talk to some stars of the festival about their shows, and find out who they're looking forward to seeing at the fest. Ta-ra for now!

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