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Nottingham Comedy Festival

October 2009

He makes a good point does James 'Lloydie' Lloyd. "It's amazing that this hasn't happened before," says the comedy writer and Trent FM presenter.
And it took two cherub-faced women, barely out of university, to do it.
Tonight sees the launch of the very first Nottingham Comedy Festival, with dozens of comics performing at nine venues across the city (and beyond) until next Saturday.
Rhod Gilbert, the shouty Welsh stand-up who did a fine job of guest hosting Never Mind The Buzzcocks recently, is the biggest name. And you may have only heard of Shazia Mirza among the others, but for a debut festival it ain't a bad start.
It's not just about watching the mirth-makers in action, as you can have a go yourself. Added to that, there are child-friendly shows.
"We are really passionate about comedy and felt that Nottingham should have its own festival," says organiser Helen Stead, 22, from Ravenshead, who will be appearing with the improv comedy group MissImp during the festival.
"We have a mix of top pros and rising stars. Part of the fun of festivals is checking out shows you know nothing about."
"We've had a lot of support," adds fellow organiser Rachel Greensmith, 22, from Clifton, who began working on the festival with Helen in February.
Nottingham comedian and promoter Spiky Mike, from the Funhouse Comedy Club, is among those who jumped at the idea.
"With the country in its longest-ever recession we need cheering up more than ever, so it's the perfect time to launch Nottingham's first-ever comedy festival," says Mike, who is running 24 shows during the festival.
"Rhod Gilbert is the best comedian in the country in my opinion but his Playhouse show sold out ages ago. There are still plenty of other really good comedians on during the festival," he adds, name-checking Addy Van Der Borgh, Rob Rouse, Andy White and Alfie Moore.
South Londoner James Mullinger has toured with Jimmy Carr and appears in his DVD Stand Up.
"Every gig I have ever done in Nottingham has been great," says James, whose show The Bad Boy Of Feminism is at The Bunkers Hill on Sunday.
"And I'm not one of those comics who thinks Nottingham is only famous for Robin Hood. I love exploring the city, although you'd better get used to the Robin Hood thing – it's going to be a nightmare after the film comes out next year. The city will look like Texas once the tourists descend."
Award-winning stand-up Shazia Mirza thinks the festival will be a spirit-raiser: "Any city could do with a good laugh right now. I'm sure the people of Nottingham will be a lot of fun."
"A city like Nottingham deserves a great event like this," adds Lloydie, whose one-act show, Coming and Going, is being performed at The Art Organisation.
Award-winning stand-up Paul Kerensa, who has written for the hit BBC comedy Not Going Out, is looking forward to coming back.
"I'm a big Nottingham fan," he says. "I lived there for three years as a student. It's a great city with great character and cracking venues."
Kerensa will be doing a compilation of Edinburgh Fringe shows at the Canalhouse on Monday.
"It's the first time I've brought my touring show to Nottingham and already it's feeling like a bit of a homecoming. Nottingham has the best kebabs on the planet – fact – so after the show you'll find me at an undisclosed location on Alfreton Road ordering my usual. See you there."
Lee Simpson, of the Comedy Store Players, thinks it's a strong line-up for a festival debut.
"I'd go along for that 'I was there at the beginning' cachet," he laughs.
The family-friendly shows are on Sunday afternoon at The Bunkers Hill with Mike Belgrave, who sees the world through the eyes of a child and The Clean Comedy Show, which carries a 12A certificate and has enjoyed sell-out runs at Edinburgh.
There are opportunities for anyone who fancies themselves as a bit of a wit. Spiky Mike is running his Should I Stay or Should I Go? competition at the Bunkers Hill tomorrow. "It's an X Factor-style gong show for newer acts where the audience vote acts off," he says.
"There are also improv nights that you can join in with."
Matt Turner will teach you how it's done on Sunday with his Friends of the Mirth Comedy Workshop.
"We aim to give people who have never performed stand-up comedy before a foothold on the comedy ladder by introducing them to writing techniques, joke structure and a chance to perform in a supportive environment."
The workshop is at the Robin Hood pub, in Sherwood, and culminates in a showcase gig in front of a live audience.
"Hopefully people who attend the workshop will leave brimming with confidence, full of ideas and have some guidance toward realising their ambitions."

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