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Stage Editorial

robinince18.jpg Alternative comedy

What’s taken longer than Donald Trump’s morning hair routine to pull together and is going to result in something just as funny? The Newcastle Alternative Comedy Festival, of course, which is completely taking over The Stand comedy club Bar & Kitchen in October.

Oh my! The Stand have went truly bonkers on the programming front for their Newcastle Alternative Comedy Festival. It looks like it’s going to be their busiest month ever so I’m going to cut the waffle and dive right into this barrel of laughs to pick out a few highlights.

They’re kicking things off in fine style with George Zach’s ‘Immigrateful’ (4 October). George came to Newcastle as a wide-eyed Greek boy and this “British, Greek, Geordie” reckons that it’s not going well – it’s going great. 

Zoe Lyons is a regular on ‘Mock the Week’ and a much-loved figure on ‘Live at the Apollo’, as well as being all over Radio 4. And this hugely popular comic is returning to the region with her new show ‘Entry Level Human’ (5 October) in which she hits us up with a fresh crop of quick-fire observational gags and laugh-out-loud one-liners, mixing brutal put-downs with richly funny stories.

Delivered in his breathlessly inimitable style, Scott Gibson is going to take you on an epic odyssey – from Renfrewshire to Kavos – that charts the bullheaded adventures and choppy waters of his youth (6 October). A reflective and blisteringly funny treatise on the escapism and hedonism that travel promises, this is a story about friendship, love, pool parties, travel insurance, pushing your limits and plunging headfirst into the deep end. 

Robin Ince (pictured) is the co-star of the award-winning ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ and author of ‘How to Build a Universe (Part 1)’ with Professor Brian Cox, and his latest show, ‘Chaos of Delight’ (9 October), sees him mashing up the two cultures of art and science in a celebration of the human mind from Bohemians to Black Holes, Dali to DNA.

One of the brightest stars in the north-east comedy firmament is Lauren Pattison (11 October). And it’s been a truly stellar year for this singular talent with a plethora of awards and nominations being shovelled her way, along with sold-out shows and a run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. If you’ve not seen Lauren before then make sure you check out just why her razor sharp wit and searing honesty has won her such glittering praise (and if you have seen her before, then I bet you’ve already booked your tickets).

Geoff Norcott is one of the stars of BBC2’s ‘The Mash Report’ and ‘Live at the Apollo’ and his latest show, ‘Traditionalism’ (11 October), sees him worry that tradition is becoming a dirty word in a world that is changing at such a dizzying pace.

Most people will be familiar with Paul Sinha as one of The Chasers from ITV’s ‘The Chase’, but he’s also a highly regarded stand-up, and his latest confessional show ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ (12 October) sees him picking up the pieces after his personal life was dealt a shattering blow. The beginning of the end? Or the end of the beginning?

Fresh from hosting ‘Live at the Apollo’ and another total sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Dane Baptiste is bringing his third smash-hit piece, ‘G.O.D. (Gold. Oil. Drugs)’ to The Stand (12 October). Original, provocative and exceptionally crafted the show explores our worldwide pursuit of wealth, power and pleasure.

Cal Halbert was one half of The Mimic Men from ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ a couple of years ago, and this local lad’s new show ‘No Biz Like Showbiz’ is all about the stuff he loves: the lights, the stage, the suits, the shoes, the show, and, of course, those killer impressions (14 October).

Another local funnyman is Seymour Mace who literally makes it up as he goes along. His show could turn out to be anything from a regular stand-up night to an impromptu scripted performance of the film ‘Zulu Dawn’ (14 October). And don’t be surprised if he manages to convince some of his funny mates to get up on stage with him to work for nothing. 

Another fella noted for making things up is ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ star and inaugural Perrier Comedy Award winner Tony Slattery, who is returning to where his comedic heart truly lies, with his brand-new, all-star improv show (15 October). Welcoming a hand-picked selection of old friends, Tony will invite you to wallow in a frantic, relentless and 100% spontaneous laugh-a-thon.

Phil Nichol’s ‘Your Wrong’ was the second best reviewed show at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and it’s continuing to win rave reviews up and down the country. From Trump to Brexit, Facebook to Tinder, he’ll be pulling the rug from beneath everything that is wrong with the world (19 October). Fresh off the back of the new BBC Radio 4 series ‘Appisodes’ and a Netflix special, multi-award winning comedian and regular co-host of ‘The Guilty Feminist’ podcast Felicity Ward is back with her new show ‘Busting A Nut’ (28 October). Unrelentingly funny, with a sharp, upbeat and self-mocking style, she has supported the likes of Katherine Ryan and Maria Bamford and is surely primed to become a household name.

I’ve only mentioned around half the acts that are set to play The Stand this month. Indeed I’m already castigating myself for not finding enough room to mention the quite brilliant Irishman Jason Byrne, or The Thinking Drinkers, or Viz lads Chrisand Simon Donald with their ‘Donald Trumps’ show, or Martin Mor or Simon Evans or Ray Bradshaw or Fin Taylor or Sam Avery or Cook and Hutchinson (the brilliant Jason Cook and Carl Hutchinson for goodness sake – teaming up for the first time ever). 

It just looks like you’re going to have to check out The Stand website for the full, gagtion-packed, programme.

Newcastle Alternative Comedy Festival, 1-31 October, The Stand Comedy Club, Bar & Kitchen, 31 High Bridge, Newcastle. thestand.co.uk/whats-on/Newcastle