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Barbara Nice, Henning Wehn, Tom Stade and more: Brand new comedy festival Funny Things coming to Wolverhampton

By Rebecca Stanley | Entertainment | Published:

Its just under two weeks until brand new festival Funny Things launches in Wolverhampton.

Kate Taylor, Marshall and Amy Ann Haigh, AKA Sneeky Beast and back, Barbara Nice, Billy Spakemon and Sima Gonsai get ready for the Funny Things comedy festival at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

When reports from the Office for National Statistics stated that Wolverhampton was the unhappiest place in the UK, locals didn’t agree, and now Creative Black Country are going to prove it isn’t true, with a celebration of Black Country humour.

Creative Black Country have brought together a range of local and national partners and artists, to produce a festival ranging from household names to new talent, exhibitions and comedy film, theatre and family activities, and more.

Parminder Dosanjh, Creative Director of Creative Black Country. says: "for the first time Wolverhampton City will come together and host over 120 events in the name of humour. We’re pleased to see a whole range of events that explore comedy at it’s broadest sense. Alongside stand-up we have artist commissions and events that reflect local voices.”

The festival kicks off in style on October 23 at the Slade Rooms where Barbara Nice will be in conversation with actress and comedian Francesca Martinez. T

Wolverhampton Civic Hall have some of best comedians on the circuit visiting, including German comedian Henning Wehn on October 27, Canadian Tom Stade on October 26 and off the wall performer Milton Jones on November 4.

Milton Jones

Three of Wolverhampton’s favourite night-time venues The Giffard Arms, The Lych Gate Tavern and The Outback will be transformed in to comedy venues with a mix of well-known names and emerging talent covering improv and stand-up to film and cabaret with a ‘pay what you want on the door’ pricing policy.

There will be plenty of opportunities for families to have a giggle together with a special kid-friendly programme. A DIY drive-in cinema will pop up at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and there will be a sensory fun space for babies and toddlers at the festival hub at the Wulfrun Shopping Centre. Newhampton Arts Centre will host slapstick, comedy and comic drawing workshops alongside a Custard Pie Ceremony while Windsor Toys in Penn have invited noted writer Emma Purshouse to perform an intimate poetry show for kids.

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Brand new commissions include festival band Orchestra of Chaos who will be popping up in-and-around Wolverhampton with their unique brand of music while they produce a digital fanzine of people’s funny stories on the way. Redhawk Logistica’s #JokeExchange has been gathering residents’ funniest one-liners to display on placards. Their mass placard flash mob takes place on October 28 with the entire joke selection coming together in one place in the city centre.

Visit Bollywood video shop Jambo Cinema at Wolverhampton Art Gallery which sees a recreation of Creative Producer Darwinder Bansal’s Aunty and Uncle’s retro living room from the 1980’s.

Budding comedians are given plenty of chances to try out their own sketches in front of an audience. The Midland’s heat of the Funny Women Awards on November 1 will take place at The Slade Rooms hosted by Barbara Nice. Past winners include Sara Pascoe and Katherine Ryan.

Katherine Ryan

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The Stand-up Challenge Showcase on November 2 at the Molineux gives local business people the chance to try out their first ever five minutes of stand-up, and for students and academics Bright Club, on Monday 30th October, is the perfect opportunity to combine study and comedy.

Visitors will be able to see how the team at Arena Theatre produce four short comic plays in just 24 hours for 14/48 on October 28 while the BBC Asian Network have invited Guz Khan to host five of his favourite comedians to join him for Comedy Live at the Light House on November 5.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “After the success of the literature festival earlier this year we are delighted to be hosting another high-profile festival across the city."

“This comedy festival will bring a lot of laughter to venues across the city including comedy theatre, music, poetry, film, stand-up, family activities, talks and workshops.”

On the closing weekend there will be a special premiere performance of Vacant Lot a lost radio show written by acclaimed West Bromwich-born comedy writer Larry Stephens for comedian Tony Hancock. Presented in collaboration with Birmingham Comedy Festival, two of the found episodes, which have never been performed in public, will be staged in a radio studio setting and aired for the first time at the Light House on November 4.

Janice Connolly as Barbara Nice

Guest Director of Funny Things, comedian and actress, Janice Connolly said: “It’s important to have events like this that bring people together to have a laugh and involve the whole community. Everyone has a sense of humour.”

To bring the festival to life CBC have worked with Big Difference Company – the producers of the hugely successful Leicester Comedy Festival: “It’s been great to have worked with the team at Creative Black Country and provide some support for the first ever Funny Things Comedy Festival”, says Geoff Rowe, CEO Big Difference Company.

“The programme looks amazing and demonstrates the support the festival has amongst the local community. Comedy is a great way to unite communities as humour and laughter is something that everyone does no matter what background they are from and I’m sure the festival will help do this across Wolverhampton as well as raising plenty of smiles for audiences that attend the events.”

For more information and full listings, click here.

Rebecca Stanley

By Rebecca Stanley
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.stanley@expressandstar.co.uk

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