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Stage Editorial

steffen17.jpg Festive funnies. New year guffaws

It’s been another storming year for The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle with some of the biggest names in stand-up packing it to the rafters. But never a venue to rest on their laurels, they’re all set to light up December with a series of Christmas shows and specials that will take us right up to New Year’s Eve.

When we hit December I always consider the life of the English poet and farmer Thomas Tusser who lived from 1524-1580. One of his most famous lines is: “At Christmas, play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.” Here was a man who had neither central heating, Deliveroo nor Netflix, yet still managed to get himself some kind of cheer, while I, who possess all of these things, have the kind of stress levels that would rival that of Mariah Carey’s tour manager. This year I’m determined to sort out some kind of play and good cheer of my very own, which is where these Stand shows are going to come in very handy.

Before the big day itself, the Stand Christmas Specials are running from Monday 11 to Saturday 16 December with the kind of stellar line-up that the venue has become famous for. Host for the evenings will be Alfie Joey who will be a familiar face to anyone who enjoyed Hebburn and Johnny Vegas’ Ideal on TV, and a familiar voice to anyone who listens to BBC Radio Newcastle’s breakfast show. A natural on stage, he’s the perfect host bringing bags of enthusiasm and material that is both original and very funny. The bill will also feature the singular talents of Imran Yusuf who is renowned as a skilful raconteur, seamlessly weaving political observations with heartfelt introspection in his charmingly endearing trademark style. Languid, punchy, cheeky and utterly loveable, he has established himself as a truly unique voice in the world of comedy. Johnny Pelham began comedy at university and while there he managed to achieve runner-up spots in both the coveted So You Think You’re Funny competition and The Chortle Student Comedy Awards, and since then he has been much in demand on TV (appearing on the likes of Live at the BBC and Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central) and toured three highly acclaimed shows, concluding with this year’s Just Shout Louder, which has seen him compared to Daniel Kitson. High praise indeed. Chris Kent, meanwhile, hails from Cork and made a huge splash when he made his debut in 2010 at one of Ireland’s biggest comedy festivals in Dublin. Since then he has went from strength to strength with a string of sell-out shows including at the Edinburgh Fringe where the critics were in agreement that he was one of the brightest new stars around (“Original, hilarious material – among the best acts I’ve seen” was the five-star verdict of The Mirror). Sammy Dobson is a Newcastle lass who has appeared in everything from I, Daniel Blake to the daytime TV series Doctors. There’s nothing “daytime” about her act though, as her shockingly funny observations about her life would make a docker blush. Of course, she can get away with such stuff simply because she is so hilarious.

After Christmas, when your turkey carcass has finally given up the ghost, Stand will begin gearing up for the new year with their Hootfest! shows which will run from Wednesday 27 to Sunday 31 December. And again, they’ve stuffed the line-up with comics that will literally have you laughing yourself inside out (note: not literally. That would be hideous). Host for these specials will be a very familiar face to fans of the local scene, Steffan Peddie (pictured). A star of Hebburn and sometime guest host of Nightowls on Metro Radio and the breakfast show on BBC Radio Newcastle, Peddie is superb on stage, whether it’s with his hilarious Chat Show Thing, which has played to packed houses across the region, or with his solo stuff, he is definitely one of our best comics. Another local lad is Carl Hutchinson who has had a truly stellar year appearing on the likes of Comedy Central’s The Chris Ramsey Show and winning a raft of rave reviews wherever he has played (“An absolute must – the next big thing” – The Skinny). He always enraptures audiences with his twisted logic and hilarious stories, but it’s those killer gags that get the guffaws. Ben Crompton will be familiar to Game of Thrones fans, playing Eddison Tollet in the show, but his quickfire, physical and laugh out loud stand-up material has also won him much praise too, mixing up the observational with the surreal. Lauren Pattison is one of the brightest young talents currently on the circuit and has already had a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe with her debut show, Lady Muck, which won her incredible reviews including this from The Telegraph: “Because of Pattison’s Geordie roots and indecent subject matter, comparisons will no doubt be made with Sarah Millican. Those comparisons would be unfair, though: whisper it, but Pattison might just turn out to be a whole lot funnier.” Finally Si Beckwith manages to combine his amiable nature with a razor sharp wit, to cut an assured and engaging presence on stage, whether he is being surreal or just downright silly.

So there you have it: plenty of good cheer for your delectation among that lot. Join me and let all the stresses of the season simply melt away. (Note: There are plenty of other gigs taking place at Stand in December beside these specials. Check their website for more details.)

The Stand Christmas Special, Monday 11-Saturday 16 December, doors 7pm, performance starts 8.30pm, £12-17.50. Hootfest! Wednesday 27-Sunday 31 December, doors 7pm, performance starts 8.30pm, £8-£27.50. thestand.co.uk/whats-on/Newcastle/December