Seaside Laughter

Incredible as it seems Maverick has been running at Easton Farm Park for nearly a decade, and, not content with having seen his baby grow into the UK’s premier Americana music festival, Paul Spencer will launch Laugh East over the weekend of September 30th – October 2nd in a variety of venues in Aldeburgh.  And rather as he did with the launch of Maverick, he has not gone in halfheartedly with regard to the line-up either.

Opening the festival at the Pumphouse is Tina C.  The spoof, C&W singing, comic creation of Christopher Green could perhaps have played the Maverick Festival itself – Rich Hall headlined a few years ago in his Otis Lee Crenshaw incarnation – but will doubtless get the weekend off to a great start.  Global tours, a TV show and five series on Radio 4 feature on Tina’s CV, and whilst plenty of musicians have played the Royal Albert Hall and Aldeburgh I’m willing to bet that Tina’s first single, “No Dick’s as Hard as My Life,” will mark her out as a unique performer in both venues.

Original Comedy Store MC, Alexei Sayle, will be ‘in-conversation’ in The Jubilee Hall during the afternoon on Saturday 1st October.  Sayle only recently returned to stand-up, having forged a reputation as an author over the past decade, but it appears that it is in his writer’s guise in which he’ll be appearing in Aldeburgh as the next instalment of his memoirs – “Thatcher Stole My Trousers – is now out.  Don’t, however, imagine this is going to be some sombre, Southbank Show style examination of metaphor and meaning.  Anyone who read Alexei’s previous volume – Stalin Ate My Homework – will tell you that his writing is as vivid and funny as his stand-up.  Thatcher Stole My Trousers chronicles that period when comedy and politics collided and deals with the first season at The Comedy Store, the Comic Strip and the Young Ones.  I’d expect this conversation to be a tad more diverting and entertaining than most.

Back at the Pumphouse at 6.30 Bridget Christie may be the least well-known name on the weekend’s line-up but, given that she was the winner of the 2013 Edinburgh Comedy Award, that is unlikely to remain the case.  Her critically acclaimed show – A Bic For Her – sold out two runs at the Soho Theatre and Bridget may be the unexpected hit of the weekend.

She’ll be doing well if she is as Stewart Lee also appears on the Saturday.  Lee’s deliberately challenging style and unconcealed contempt for elements of his audience is not everyone’s cup of PG but those who like it – and I’m one – tend to really love it.  He’s currently up in Edinburgh performing his new show Content Provider, which, despite being billed as a work in progress, is sold out, and it will be this Festival set which he’ll be bringing to Aldeburgh.

That’s a very strong line-up for a new festival but for me the real gem is reserved for last as on Sunday 2nd at Aldebugh Cinema there will be a tribute to Ivor Cutler.  During his lifetime Cutler’s deadpan, oblique songs and poems divide opinion even more than Stewart Lee’s material does, although now, ten years after his death, his talent is rarely questioned.  I first encountered Cutler one afternoon at the Cambridge Folk Festival.  He wasn’t performing but Andy Kershaw, who was compering that year, played his tunes and musings in the intervals between artists.  I for one would happily have extended the changeovers; I cannot remember who was playing that afternoon but my memory of standing outside the beer tent sniggering at A Wag at the Flicks is vivid.  The tribute will feature a showing of the documentary about Ivor Cutler which Paul Spencer himself made and which you may have caught on BBC Four.  Some special guests are being lined up to add to this tribute but are as yet unconfirmed.

Ticket prices are around the £20 mark and all the details for the inaugural Laugh East Comedy Festival can be found at www.laugheast.co.uk.