Being the good law-abidin’ God-fearin’ folk that we are over at the Howl Sanctuary, we don’t review previews/works in progress. Comics need a place to be able to fail, quietly and with dignity in front of a select bunch of people, then huddle in a corner for a few hours before re-emerging to have another go.
But this left us with a dilemma – how to cover the effervescent wonderment of the humbly-titled Actually Rather Good Comedy festival? We could not let this highlight of the comedy year pass without note.
So, we solved this problem by awarding each comic we saw a three-word review. The only word that was banned was ‘funny’; because we knew that with a lineup like this, ‘funny’ was a given.
Here’s our picks (in no particular order, and not everyone saw every show, hence there being more reviews for some performers than others).
Sofie Hagen: Crafted, clever, woke.
Nick Helm: Manic, insane, genius/Whirlwind cunt slinger
Rhys James: Sharp, witty, slick/Gamble, Ruffell, hair/slick t-shirt comedian
John Robins: Honest, brutal, existential/Affecting, expressive, perceptive/Hug needed – hilarious!/Peering round corner
Fern Brady: Incandescent, raw, inspirational/Fearless, confessional, Scottish/Brutally honest Scotch/Brave, giggly, brilliant
John Luke Roberts: Tears of joy!/Original, farcical, clever/Naked, very naked/Naked ‘allo ‘allo
Spencer Jones: Whimsical, imaginative, creative/Just delightfully brilliant!/Tennis, singing robot/Surreal sublime vibrations
Mark Watson: As ever, delightful
Suzi Ruffell: Just so good!/Relatably working class
Nish Kumar: Couldn’t get in!
Rose Matafeo: Sassy, manic, outside/Alarms? What alarms!/Unshakeable sassy character
Ben Targét: Games, shaved, messy
Lou Sanders: Shameless, joyful, baptism
Jordan Brookes: Delayed by fire
Tom Neenan: Quality Attenborough homage/Attenborough seeks bigfoot
Garrett Millerick: Angry with Essex
Mae Martin: Bette Midler addiction
Joe Lycett: Coin or groin
Bec Hill: Roder, tou, fo
Michael Legge: Eventually good show/Musical high kicks
Robin Ince: Eventually stopped show/Shouty, disorganised, erudite/Loves a tangent
Angela Barnes: Apocalypse loving childless
David Trent: Angry at trivia/Didn’t play guitar
Joel Dommett: Bird flu famous/comfortable on table
Colin Hoult: Anna ‘mazing Mann/Actress, comedienne, barber
Ingrid Oliver: Cleverly written sketches
Sara Pascoe: Handling breakup better!
Eleanor Morton: Raven sized argument
Stuart Laws: Forgets cream buns/Nandad, Belgian, foyer?
Rachel Parris: Inspirational, uplifting, silly
Bethany Black: Allergic to titanium
Grainne Maguire: Irish, soul, influence
Lucy Porter: Rude, name-check, argumentative
Ed Gamble: Metalhead, no, really!
And there you have it. An entire weekend’s comedy summed up in a series of tweet-friendly soundbites. Who says the world is dumbing down.
See you next year, ARG Com Fest!