Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Pick a Show, Any Show - your guide to the 11 acts appearing at the Big Comedy Weekend

As the fabulously fun and frighteningly flamboyant festival of flippancy and frivolity that is the Big Comedy Weekend draws near, it occurred to me that perhaps not everyone is such a massive comedy geek as me... perhaps there are people out there who actually have a life and don't spend it obsessively trying to find the best and most interesting comics around, so maybe they haven't heard of all the wonderful acts that are appearing over the 11th-13th July at The Criterion! The very thought sends a shiver down my spine...

So I thought the only decent thing to do would be to fill you all in on who these 11 veritable titans of comedy are, and why myself and the Lions Eat Ice Cream crew have handpicked them to appear at our first ever Big Comedy Weekend... there really is something for everyone (unless you don't like comedy, in which case what the HELL are you doing on this blog in the first place?)

Fri 11th July 7pm
A totally unique writer and performer, who dreams up absurd fantastical stories combining myth, magic and sci-fi. He then personally records all the character voices, sound effects and incidental music at home and acts out the entire thing himself on stage utilising minimal props and maximum miming skills! Trust us, you've never seen anything like it, and neither had the judges at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival 2014 who nominated ‘Goblintime’ for Best New Show at this year’s awards. Delve into Richard’s truly unique world at, or for a quick taste check out his animated short ‘Moonsmash’.
Get tickets here

Fri 11th July 8:15pm
Simon Munnery has been an important figure on the alternative comedy scene for over 20 years now. He set up the legendary absurdist cabaret ‘Cluub Zarathustra’ in the mid-90s with the likes of Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Kevin Eldon and Julian Barratt, and was a regular in the TV and radio schedules in the late 90s/early 2000s with his characters his characters ‘Alan Parker: Urban Warrior’ and ‘The League Against Tedium’. He even provided guest vocals on a track by The Orb. More recently he has appeared in Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, created an entirely new form of stand-up with his critically acclaimed ‘Fylm’ shows, and won a Chortle Award for Innovation with his pop-up restaurant ‘La Concepta’ at the Edinburgh Fringe. In his new show, he performs extracts from the works of Danish existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard - let’s face it, it’s not going to be your run-of-the-mill stand-up show, that’s for sure! Find out more about what this highly regarded performer has been up to at, and hear him talk about the fine line between comedy and art here.
Get tickets here

Fri 11th July 9:45pm
Andrew O’Neill doesn’t just perform alternative comedy, his whole life is alternative - he’s a cross-dressing, vegan, amateur occultist and heavy metal fan, who travels by hitch-hiking, plays in a steampunk band and hosts walking tours of Jack the Ripper’s murder sites. Yet his comedy is surprisingly not as dark as you might expect, combining wonderful storytelling with surreal tangents, absurdist wordplay and pleasing cultural references. He’s a familiar face at Download and Leeds/Reading festivals and has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Steve Coogan’s ‘Saxondale’. Find out more about this alternative giant at, and watch him talking to Stewart Lee about his intoxicating blend of comedic styles here.
Get tickets here

Sat 12th July 6:30pm
A living local legend, Leanne is a lynchpin of the Leicester alternative scene. Not only does she run the infamously unpredictable ‘Lions Eat Ice Cream’ comedy nights, she has been the driving force behind some of the most memorable shows from the last few Leicester Comedy Festivals, including ‘What Have You Done With Denise’s 30p?’ and the award-nominated ‘Barbara Steele’s Wheels of Steel’. Her first full solo show was a big hit at this year’s fest, and combines her trademark oddball stand-up and sketches with some new bizarrre characters that continue to push back the creative boundaries and confound audience expectations. Here’s Leanne sending up another local legend, good old ‘Eng’ (please note, this was performed shortly before certain revelations about Jimmy Savile came to light).
Get tickets here

Sat 12th July 8pm
A grotesque comic creation and a talented wordsmith - intelligent, eloquent, arrogant, edgy, sometimes disgusting and mostly downright wrong, he will make you laugh at ideas and mental images you really shouldn’t be indulging in. This Best Show winner at 2011’s festival is not for the easily offended, but if you run with it you will be snorting and crying with laughter as this pompous, bellowing ex-surgeon reveals his hideously misguided ideas to improve the world, and attempts to understand what motivates the common man. Here he is delivering some invaluable medical advice in typically delicate fashion.
Get tickets here

Sat 12th July 9:30pm
Winner of Best New Show at this year’s festival, An Hour of Ian is a gag-packed parade of comedic characters, most of whom seem at first very familiar, even nostalgic, but always reveal an absurd twist or an unexpected depth. Heavily laden with references to long-forgotten cultural gems, and full of wonderfully silly wordplay, this show is an impressive showcase for the many talents of a man who dares to be called Ian (yet longs to be called Keith). Here he is in the guise of Wigston's favourite son Ramon le Tigre extolling the virtues of his home town.
Get tickets here

Sun 13th July 3pm
In the days before video, people used to use their imagination. Let's have a go at that now, shall we... Imagine it’s a gentle Sunday afternoon, and you’re listening to a Radio 4 Murder Mystery play. Now imagine it being a lot sillier. No, sillier than that. Now imagine it being read out on stage by the author, and brought to life with projected backdrops and a demented cavalcade of recorded character voices, portrayed by many of the city’s finest comics. By now you should be imagining something akin to ‘Crabula!’ which was such a big hit with this year’s festival audience that we just had to prize open that vampire crab’s coffin and tempt him back for another performance. Oh sorry, did I forget to mention there’s a giant vampire crab? Well there is... Imagine that!
Get tickets here

Sun 13th July 4:30pm
Jen Brister’s latest festival show expertly combines the political and the personal, weaving intelligent and thought-provoking social commentary into shrewd observational material, entertaining family tales and explorations of personal hangups, all backed up by flashes of impressive characterisation and a few truly ridiculous facial expressions to boot. In short, there’s something for just about everyone in this show, and Jen’s about as likeable a performer as you’re ever likely to see, which is why she was nominated for Best New Show in this year’s festival awards. Here she is talking about how it feels to be perilously close to 40.
Get tickets here

Sun 13th July 6pm
Scott’s relentlessly gag-filled stories about his father Roy (the archetypal ‘tight Yorkshireman’) and his observations about family life are the sort of thing you could sit and listen to all day long. His style is so traditional and his subject matter so down-to-earth, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this man has no place in a line-up consisting mainly of out-there, alternative acts... WRONG! Every time I watch him I think “I shouldn’t like this kind of thing” but every time I end up laughing heartily from start to finish, because his presentation and timing are so perfect, and because he’s an immensely likeable fellow who delivers his tales with such warmth and affection, you just can’t help laughing out loud at almost every line. This guy’s never going to be called ‘edgy’, but he has real mass appeal. Here he is entertaining the Comedy Store audience with tales of garden centres, supermarkets and all-you-can-eat carveries.
Get tickets here

Sun 13th July 7:30pm
He’s a sensitive soul is our Chris. He hasn’t had the greatest of years after breaking up with his missus and falling out of love with stand-up. But after much soul-searching he has emerged again like a comedy butterfly with a new honest form of stand-up, that is deeply personal, tragic yet beautiful and surprisingly uplifting. He manages to extract humour out of the most unlikely situations and seems to be genuinely enjoying performing again. Here he is before he fell out with comedy, showing why his loveably shy, almost apologetic style won him the award for Best Show at Leicester Comedy Festival 2012.
Get tickets here

Sun 13th July 9pm
I honestly don’t know what to expect from this show. Kristian (or the artist formerly known as Barnaby J Thompson) has, for me, been one of the most exciting acts to watch over the last few years, because he is so daring and unpredictable in his approach to stand-up. You genuinely never know what you’re going to get with this man - one day he will be howling and ripping off his clothes on stage, the next he will be playing it all nervous and barely able to speak, like a first-time performer on the verge of an anxiety attack; on another day he might be challenging the audience’s patience by building up a huge, looping wall of sound by layering assorted wails of dispair on top of one another using a loop pedal... some like to call his act ‘anti-comedy’; I prefer to say that watching him is like partaking in a dangerously unhinged lucky dip. I haven’t actually seen his new show yet, which seems to be based on extolling the virtues of David Cameron’s glorious ‘Big Society’ vision, but you can be sure that it won’t be that simple. If you fancy testing or possibly completely smashing your preconceptions of what you thought a comedy show could be, then this is the show for you. Here he is in classic Barnaby breakdown mode.
Get tickets here

So there you have it - 11 acts, 11 very different shows, all worth seeing, all happening on 11th-13th July at The Criterion - which, as I'm sure you know, serves a great choice of beers and real ales, and their awesome homecooked pizzas will be available all weekend long - see you there!!

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