A FEBRUARY HIGHLIGHT IN THE UK
The Leicester Comedy Festival gets bigger and better every year. This year, I hosted the Red Light Comedy Club shows organized by bike enthusiast and promoter Andy Salkeld, who is the Cycling Coordinator for the city of Leicester. (Yes. They really have someone like that right up there with public safety, public health and emergency planning and Andy is IT.) He has yet to get me on a bike but that is mainly because I am so un-coordinated I cannot locate the pedals.
The first week of the festival, I went to Leicester to check out what was on and what was worth laughing about. There was plenty to choose from. I was delighted with Lauren Patterson’s “Peachy, her account of how she recovered from a broken heart. Her observations were choice: ”If you are a women and get to do comedy on television, you are responsible for all the women in the world.” I have to say Lauren took her responsibility seriously; she represented us all very well. She said that when you are single, dick is like a buffet where you have to grab things with both hands lest someone else gets there first. Not easy for ME to do with any hope of success, but I have no doubt that is incisive advice for ladies who are looking. “Peachy” is beautifully presented and mesmerizing. I loved it.
I also had the privilege to see my comedy idol, Scott Capurro and he did not disappoint me. His show, “Scott Capurro Spouts Off” is a series of rapid-fire jokes often spontaneously inspired by the audience. He pointed out that comedy is protest by its very nature and he is right. For example: “I could never be a pedophile. I don’t have the storage space.” Or “In America, black men are always running from someone.” What about, “The trouble with Viagra is that it works.” and my favorite because it is so true: “If you have strong views on something you are likely to be offended if you go to a comedy club.” Anytime Scott Capurro is on the bill, go see him. He is priceless and he is one of a kind.
Andy Salkeld has always liked my jokes. That is why he had booked me to host his Red Light comedy event for the past three years. I love every ego-boosting moment. Andy has a unique taste in comedy that is not always mine, but his comedians are always different and rib-tickling. I have never done a show for him that has standard (and often boring) young. white, middle class comedians telling jokes about their penises. In the years I have hosted these shows, there have been comedians who sing wild improbable songs, those who throw things at the audience and those who insist the audience to throw things back at them. These shows are always funny and don’t involve a lot of deep thought. Very relaxing.
This year was a little closer to normal. We did the shows the second and third weekend of the festival. February 16th we were at the E Bike Centre on Granby Street. The audience was tucked in among a lot of bicycles listening to Stuart Laws doing conventional stand up, and Ian Hall gets his audience involved in antics they would never do if anyone they knew was looking. This time, Ian included the real star of the show, his daughter Niamh Hall who is ten years old and has more stage presence than I do. Niamh manned the audio for her father and stole the show. But that is what happens when you let a real woman take over isn’t it?
We finished the show with Kevin Hudson, an accountant by day and an observer of the idiosyncrasies of life by night. He went into great detail about his prostate examination. The account was so graphic I thought we might get a hands-on demonstration, but sadly for me and happily for Niamh, he kept his trousers on. I have to say the show was extraordinary and memorable as Red Light Comedy shows always are.
February 23, we had an all star cast for our show with Patrick Monahan getting us started with marvelous jokes about trying to ski and how his Iranian mother communicated by imitating the slogans she heard on television. Patrick is the happiest, most engaging human being on the planet. You cannot help but love him and we did. Laura Davis was next, a seasoned comedian from Australia. The frosting on the cake for all of us was Chris Phillips, who gave us a taste of Welsh comedy. I never realized there was anything to laugh about in Wales except the sheep, but there obviously is and Chris Phillips proved it.
The Leicester Comedy Festival is always special. This year there were 874 opportunities to laugh. And that alone makes it worth the trip. It will happen again in 2020, February 3-23. I am counting the days.