Brighton Comedy Festival 2014 welcomes a host of established comedians as well as those not so established (but up-and-coming). One weekend in Brighton brought a range of experiences, some funny, some not so funny. Let me explain…

Autumn Marks the launch of Brighton comedy Festival

Brighton in autumn

Brighton in the autumn months loses none of its charm; sure, the sea breeze picks up a chill, but if anything Brighton benefits from being ever so slightly less crowded—even with the comedy festival in full swing. Now in its 13th year, Brighton Comedy Festival is certainly here to stay and build on the immense talent it has seen in the past, boasting 70 performances in 16 days. The beautiful Brighton Dome heads up the affair and Komedia, a short walk away, props it up with its firm year-round status as one of the best comedy venues in the country.

My arrival in Brighton is as pleasant as ever. Towards the end of Queen’s Road, the sea is visible on the horizon and offers a direct route to the beach, which in the summer months I might have taken. Instead I turn left onto the Lanes and make my way to the perfectly located MY Hotel, where I would call home for the evening. In the evening I have tickets to see the wonderful Dave Gorman, but for now I make the most of my day exploring some of the delights of the Lanes.

Wandering The Lanes

My first stop is Small Batch Coffee, adjoining the MY Hotel for a much-needed cappuccino. Normally a coffee is barely worth mentioning, but this place has got it right: the right attitude from the expertly trained baristas, looking effortlessly cool behind the counter, making exquisite patterns with the milk in one swift movement of the arm. I am of course a sucker for a good coffee, and this set me up perfectly for my Brighton experience. The laid-back attitude of the baristas is typical to Brighton, and is a refreshing break away from the uptight atmosphere of London, to which I am accustomed. People walk slower, have smiles on their faces, dress in a relaxed manner—heck, some of them even say hello to you.

Small Batch Coffee

Weaving my way through The Lanes, I am drawn into each-and-every antique/vintage/second hand stall I come across. There are an abundance. I am personally looking to extend my vinyl collection, but these places offer more than a few cheap neglected records. There is everything, from architectural salvage, to old letter press blocks, to beautiful furniture, clothes and general knickknacks. Hours can be spent mooching.

After a successful hoard, well and truly looking forward to the comedy show in the evening, I attempted to get a table in the top rated Chilli Pickle, adjoining the hotel. Much to my disappointment, being a solo diner I was refused a table. I then became agitated and suspected that maybe Brighton was not a good place to be alone on a Saturday evening—I felt the eyes of judgment upon me. Just when I was dreading an evening meal in McDonalds, YO! Sushi quickly rescued me, where I ate and drank quickly and anxiously. Upon leaving, I notice Chilli Pickle hadn’t got any busier since my earlier visit. At this point the streets were awash with groups of people heading on to restaurants, pubs and into the evening ahead. I slump my head so as to appear inconspicuous and make the short walk to Brighton Dome.

Dave Gorman at the Brighton Dome

Dave Gorman Gets Straight to the Point* (*the PowerPoint)

The atmosphere was much more welcoming. I took a seat and eagerly anticipated the evening’s entertainment. I was not disappointed! As might be expected from those already familiar with Dave Gorman’s shows, Microsoft PowerPoint was launched and we entered straight into a series of charts, much to the room’s delight. I’m always wary of comedians rehashing old material, but this was very much a nod to the in-joke he has created from previous shows—in many ways, this was a warm welcome to old friends. The rest of the show carefully dissected modern life’s involvement with the digital age, with particular focus on camera-phones and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Once the show was over, Dave humbly entered the Dome’s bar where he invited people to come and say hello, happily signed books, posed for selfies and shook hands with admiring fans.
Dave's fantastic show is running across the UK until the end of the year.

Brighton comedy festival runs until 25th October. 
To see the full Brighton Comedy Festival listings, click here 

Jill Edwards’ Stand-Up Comedy Workshop

Komedia Brighton

The rain sure did fall on Sunday morning. I was due to go to Jill Edwards’ Stand-Up Comedy Workshop at Komedia. Again a short walk from the hotel, I took full advantage of the breakfast on offer, grab myself another one of those wonderful coffees from Small Batch, and made my way.

I was unsure what to expect. My confidence had taken a couple of knocks the evening before and I approached nervously. This anxiety quickly dissipated as Jill Edwards welcomed me into a warm, relaxed and, most importantly, friendly environment. A sigh of relief! What was to come was certainly a highlight of the weekend. Jill has taught some of the country’s best talent such as Jimmy Carr, Shappi Khorsandi, Hal Cruttenden, and Seann Walsh. These people have one (and only one I’m sure…) advantage over me: they took the full 12 week course (and the advanced classes beyond), whereas I only had a day to work with. By the end of the workshop I had written a one-minute stand-up set, which I then performed on stage, under spotlights, with a microphone in front of a small audience of fellow students and some friends and family. This sounds daunting! And indeed, at the beginning of the day I was terrified by the prospect. But we gradually built up to it, and Jill successfully created a safe warm environment.

Jill offers workshops year round, click here.
Click here to read about it in full.

And so ended my-two day Brighton Comedy Festival experience. I was disappointed to leave after meeting some great people and walking the Lanes. But in a way I was relieved that I didn’t have to spend another evening as a solo visitor to Brighton’s energetic and vibrant streets.

Read more articles by Mandi Goodier here

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