Bath Comedy Festival 2017 - A Lot To Look Forward To
Festival Director Nick Steel says "This year sees a brilliantly balanced line-up, with something for everybody, from baby buggy to Zimmer frame! Opening night on April 1st with Paul Merton's Impro Chums is sure to be popular and I'm thrilled that we're being able to use Bath's fabulous art deco Forum venue."
Other shows destined to sell out include a second visit of the fantastic Wedding Reception (April 16th) where the audience become the guests at possibly the worst wedding in the world, whilst, we might add, devouring a delicious three course meal. Widcombe Social Club will be transformed into a glittering wedding venue for the occasion and guests are invited to dress appropriately.
Further gourmet treats include The Faulty Towers Dining Experience, which is delivered to you courtesy of Basil, Sybil, Manuel et al in the gracious setting of the award-winning Allium Restaurant at the Abbey Hotel (April 4th).
Winner of Celebrity Mastermind and star of Live at the Apollo, wry comedian Simon Evans, is at Widcombe Social Club on April 9th, which is also the day that sees the perennial hit The Wine Arts Trail making its bonkers boozy way around Bath's secret corners in the big red bus.
Residents of Bradford on Avon and those up for a ten minute train ride won't miss out as old stagers and all-time favourites Barry Cryer and Ronnie Golden are at the Wiltshire Music Centre (April 5th). This historic town's pubs, eateries and independent shops are currently trending, so why not make a day of it?
Meanwhile, there's plenty of stuff for those of us with thin wallets, from free previews on the new Theatre Bath Bus situated in SouthGate to the return of the Affordable Festival based mainly at The Bath Brew House which is hosting a plethora of pay-what-feel solo shows from the likes of Joz Norris, Simon Caine, Archie Maddocks, Harriet Kemsley, Sally-Anne Hayward and John Hastings.
The Brew House is also host to Saturday evening bills, plus for the first time some late line-up shows which don't start until 11pm. Look out for Andrew Maxwell, Paddy Lennox, Roger Monkhouse and Janey Godley.
The cheap as chips buggy-friendly Kids Comedy Festival in Widcombe (Mon 10th through Fri 14th April) is aimed at hard-up mums and dads looking for creative fun during the holidays for tots and toddlers up to pre-teens. The Kids Festival will be declared open by TV's Martin Roberts, NSPCC and Childline supporter, I'm A Celebrity contestant, and author of a series of the much-loved 'Sadsville' series of children's book. During the week, smaller audience members will be invited on stage to tell a joke and, on Friday, Kids' Comedy Competition Cups with the prestigious titles of Little Lord and Lady Laughalot will be awarded to the funniest children!
The New Act Competition has grown in popularity so much that the heats have been extended to a total of eight, the first three of which are to be held in the Igloo underneath the Abbey Hotel with the rest at The Bath Brew House.
Widcombe remains the spiritual home of the Festival, with the programme at Widcombe Social Club boasting two star-filled Friday Night Live line-ups, the return of Arthur Smith & The Smithereens and the absolutely sensational Jess Robinson and her new show 'Impressive' with a full band. Also visiting are 'King Of The Fringe' Mervyn Stutter, Viv Groskop and a late entry in the programme - Pip Utton's show Playing Maggie (8th April). The celebrated Frome performer has had huge success worldwide with his tragi-comedy which ostensibly concerns a seedy Thatcher impersonator but ends with an astonishing question and answer session with the Iron Lady herself. An unmissable tour de force suitable for Maggie lovers and Maggie haters alike!
The Ring O Bells hosts a concentrated programme during the first week of the Easter holidays with three top notch Edinburgh-style shows per day including amazing performances from Elf Lyons, Bilal Zafar, Kirsty Newton, Nick Doody, Ashley Storrie, David Mills, Croft & Pearce and Samantha Baines. Stephanie Laing returns as well as her touring partner Bisha K Ali, and the four-day mini-Edinburgh closes with Lieven Scheire, a Belgian comedian who teaches special relativity while performing stand-up…never say the Festival isn't varied!
There's a splendid musical interlude in the Festival in the shape of famous Shetland fiddler Aly Bain, who with Phil Cunningham on accordion is sure to fill the Widcombe Social Club. Another genre-busting and popular booking is veteran broadcaster Andy Kershaw, who will be recounting his numerous adventures in the worlds of music and journalism in relaxed surroundings at the Club.
There is a whole host of other shows all over town in venues such as The Bell, The Assembly Inn, The Mission Theatre, St James Wine Vaults, Komedia and The Rondo Theatre, where Marcel Lucont and Mitch Benn star, along with the only act to have performed at every Festival since its inception – The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.
Nick Steel says: "Pick up a programme around town, from the Visitor Information Centre or our new 'Polite Box' information point in Brunel Square, and look out for the Theatre Bath Bus which will be there too, over the middle weekend. I hope you enjoy this year's fantastic series of events, see as much as possible and discover new comedians and venues in the process."