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Newbury's Comedy Festival

Robin Strapp introduces Newbury Corn Exchange's annual comedy festival

Dateline: 8th July, 2010

With England now out of the World Cup it's a perfect time to forget the blues and celebrate The Newbury Corn Exchange's Comedy Festival, which runs from Thursday 8th to Thursday 29th July. Now in its seventh year the Festival has batted above its weight for a multitude of acts from stand up comics through sketch artists and an opportunity to preview acts going to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

Meeting the innovative Corn Exchange Director, Nick Giles, he told me, "I think the Festival has carved a niche for itself on the comedy festival circuit - the biggest small festival if you like. I am proud of the fact that the programme has always offered something different and distinctive from other festivals - a real mix of acts and works, catering to all ages and tastes - from novices to aficionados."

This year is no exception with Rob Rouse kicking off the Festival with his trademark storytelling performance as he explores his hilarious journey as a brand new father and beleaguered owner of the most spectacularly randy dog you are ever going to hear about. The top stand ups Jim Jeffries, Mark Watson and Danny Bhoy are also making headline performances.

But what makes this Festival different are the inclusion of such acts as the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets that had a sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe for the past three years, together with David Benson's uncanny and brilliant impersonation of Kenneth Williams in Think No Evil Of Us, a palpable hit at Edinburgh and now on it second national tour.

The Corn Exchange regularly commissions and supports new work and this year it is local legends Plested and Brown's new comedy The Perfect Wife Roadshow that takes pride of place with a sharp witty text and great clown and physical comedy but this time adding musical theatre as an extra dimension. One not to be missed.

Families are also catered for with CBeebies presenter Andy Day along with Mike James creating a hilarious, slapstick and chaotic Big Box of Bananas aimed at the 4 to 11 year olds. One of the stars of the Royal Variety Show Paul Zerdin brings his intriguing ventriloquist act featuring Sam one of his many characters in Zerdin's bag.

Following last year's acclaimed show the Festival Idiots of Ants return with a load of new sketches that are sure to tickle your funny bones well worth seeing.

So with such a variety in store and some double bills for a mere £10, this is one Festival that's certainly worth a visit.

Full details are available from the website www.cornexchangenew.com. Reviews to follow.

Robin Strapp

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©Peter Lathan 2010