Dodging in and out of the crowds at Fresher’s Fair, I couldn’t help but be drawn towards a stand for Southampton’s Comedy Festival. Whilst I’m always guaranteed a laugh from an episode of Friends, the idea of a festival full of people who are paid to make you laugh was pretty tempting. And all for the price of £10?
And I wasn’t wrong; this festival was worth every penny and more. Launched this year in Hoglands Park by Comedy Central, this 3-day festival featured some of the biggest names in stand up, including Joel Dommett, Lee Nelson and Russel Kane. The weekend offered headliners, Katherine Ryan, Russel Howard and Jimmy Carr. This experimental stand-up festival took place on 5, 6, 7th October and my boyfriend and I managed to grab tickets for the finale on Sunday.
The park was a short walk from the train station and when we arrived at around 2 o’clock, two hours in, the arena was lifeless. Initially shocked by the lack of people, we used this quietness to take on the challenge of Takeshi’s Castle. The classic Japanese game show had been transformed into an inflatable obstacle course.
Something you should know about me and Harry…we’re pretty competitive. We took the first round to get used to the course and then the second time the rivalry began. I won’t deny that Harry easily smashed me, but we provided such exciting entertainment that the camera guy asked us to do it again. So, back on the course we went, already worn out and sweaty! We had our 15 minutes of fame as we were made to do slides and obstacles again and again. Now time to spot us in what’s probably 10 seconds of air time on Comedy Central TV.
After this intense work out, we went into one of the three tents where we witnessed half an hour of the live game show, Your Face or Mine. We watched intently as Jimmy Carr interrogated a couple, shaggy haired Bobby Mair and Harriet Kemsley. We joined in with our paddles during votes about their looks and questionable relationship. Whilst entertaining, I found the Canadian Bobby getting on my nerves, following on from his cousin, Justin Bieber. Other live shows that were staged were drunk history and roast battle.
We ventured into the main stage tent to witness acts hosted by the energetic humorous Iain Stirling. First up was the outgoing Stephen Bailey who successfully used his sexuality to lay the ground work for many of his jokes. Then we endured 20 minutes of Luisa Omielan swearing. Handling the topics of politics and the bible requires skill and Omielan instead delivered a rant as opposed to making playful references. Thankfully, following on was BGT’s winner Lost Voice Guy, who without ITV’s restrictions pushed the boundaries a bit with his risky jokes and was highly praised.
Comic drag supergroup Denim made an appearance. Whilst we did not watch their act, we saw several parading the festival in mesmerising outfits. For me, AMusical which mixed classic musical hits with comedy was a little bit awkward, causing us to escape.
When it came to the matter of food, there wasn’t much choice. 5 food vans left us disappointed and visitors enraged by the long queues. Luckily, we got our food just in time to get good seats to watch Andrew Maxwell host and introduce both Lee Nelson and Chris Ramsey. Nelson with a new baby played the family man, dropping some of his past chavvy characteristics. But still holding onto it through the cleverly placed security tag on his blazer. Ramsey created humour through his constant dispute with his wife over the stacking of the dishwasher.
To conclude our day, we got to laugh and hide from Jimmy Carr. Known for picking on audience members, I tried to keep a low profile. The poor boy in the front row wasn’t so lucky having mum jokes thrown at him from all angles. But the group doing weed behind us had it coming. His tour currently combining his best jokes ran fluently. His intertwining of swift jokes, grilling of the audience and risqué material means he’s a bit like marmite. But, what good comedian isn’t controversial?
The highlight of the festival for me was Jimmy Carr and his contagious laugh. Whilst the festival might need expanding in terms of seating in the tents, Harry and I certainly got lucky. And for £20 a day or £10 on offer, you can’t really complain. I’d pay that for Jimmy alone.