Ealing Comedy Festival

Viv Ellis has a laugh (and learns what a tartiflette is)

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The Comedy Festival’s my favourite. And this year, whoever does the booking did a great job.

The names included David Baddiel, Arthur Smith, Marcus Brigstocke, Stephen K Amos Paul Chaudhry & Shappi Khorsandi to name a few. I chose to go on Wednesday as Trevor Noah – a South African comedian that I really like – was on. Sadly, he couldn’t appear but was replaced with Hammersmith-born Nathan Caton and Simon Evans.

With all the work being done in Walpole Park actually getting in was a bit of a nightmare, I managed to walk in through the wrong gate – tramped down through a building site only to find I was hemmed in and had to retrace my steps.

Nathan Caton was the first act – lots of audience banter with some really funny lines.

Simon Evans’s act is based on his being a well-bred, stand-offish gentleman who is utterly perplexed by modern life and mores. His urbane, cultured and utterly sarcastic comments are so politically incorrect at times – but you can’t help but laugh.

He talked a lot about middle class pretensions especially in Hove (where he lives) and neighbouring Brighton. “Any genuine ‘ladies of the night’ touting for business in Brighton on a Saturday, need to wear a badge – all the women dress like that” And the 2013 horse meat scandal, “I have to confess, I was a bit worried about Waitrose’s ‘Winners Enclosure’ range”

How he would have laughed if he’s seen the food on sale in the park. Sausage with “Pommes Tartiflette” * (I had to Google it).

Next up was Paul Tonkinson a northerner – and proud of it. He’s been a stage, radio and TV performer for a long time now so a lot of his early “angry young man” stuff is disappearing (“I’m 44 now, I’ve got an allotment”) to be updated by things like a hilarious account of his wife – or “Wine Wife” as re renamed the poor, maligned woman, going out and getting disgracefully drunk with her girlfriends. He’s quite a physical act – doing loads of facial expressions – my friend said it reminded her of the facial gymnastics performed by Andy Serkis – the Ruislip-born actor who played Gollum in Lord Of The Rings.

Headlining was Rich Hall the ultra sardonic American that we’ve all seen on ‘Live At The Apollo’ and ‘QI’ (where he’s the most successful guest in terms of point scoring)

He sauntered on stage and immediately insisted that some people at the back came down to sit in empty seats in the front rows, which as you can imagine, went down well.

The 59-year-old, apparently started his career naming hurricanes – how cool a job is that? (Hurricane Viv causes havoc in Hanwell). Having turned to performing comedy he worked from the bottom up – street performing and the college circuit. It all paid off - his writing and performing all over the world has honed his material and performance to perfection. He effortlessly delivered a flawless blend of prepared and improvised material.

He spoke of his travels – like Whitehaven “the land that time forgot” where the only place he found to eat once was a “Kenturkey Fried Chicken” shop. Of being in Ireland where a newspaper had a headline ‘Cork man drowns’ – wondering is his name was ‘Bob’. Plus he performed some songs including one about the drudgery of being an IT worker - dedicated to an audience member that he’s been bantering with. And one about one of his current favourite topics – that Bob Dylan’s lost the plot.

Friday's (18th) closing night is sold out.

Nathan Caton is doing an Edinburgh show

Simon Evans has dome gigs coming up at The Soho Theatre

* Tartiflette - french dish

Viv Ellis


Have you enjoyed this year's Comedy Festival? What were the highlights? Discuss on the forum or send in your review editor@ealingtoday.co.uk


18th July 2014