'Black Country humour is unique': Frank Skinner talks ahead of Wolverhampton Funny Things performance

Homecoming hero Frank Skinner will top the bill during a festival of Black Country humour.

Frank Skinner
Frank Skinner

Skinner will perform on Tuesday as part of Funny Things, which runs across Wolverhampton venues until November 2.

The festival began in 2017 in the wake of an official survey which showed Wolverhampton to be the least happy city in the country. Funny Things was established in part to shed that reputation.

“There was a big campaign that came out of that called Love Wolverhampton, and we took that and ran with it,” says the event’s creative producer Jenny Smith.

“We wanted to prove that Wolverhampton knows how to have a good laugh, that it isn’t miserable. What better way to do that than with a comedy festival?”

The first festival ended up being a roaring success, in part thanks to the big-name acts that performed, but also because of the way the city was immersed in family-friendly bonhomie.

A joke exchange, led by artist Rob Hewitt and his group Redhawk Logistica, saw jokes in the local dialect brought together, then put on placards to be held aloft in the city centre.

Some of them only work in the unique accent of the Black Country, like this particular gem: “What time is it when you’ve got a pie on your head? Something to eight!”

“I think one of the funniest things about the Black Country is the people, who are always quick to self mock – before anyone else gets in,” adds Jenny.

“They tell wonderfully unique jokes that could only work in the Black Country dialect, many coming from the great Black Country comedy duo Aynuk & Ali, like this one.

“Aargh me mate’s fell in the canal.” “Owd it appen?” “I just took a bite out me sanwich an the mate fell out.”

The second festival – there was a gap year in 2018 – kicks off tomorrow with free events that will immerse the city in the atmosphere of the event.

The drag queens and kings of Fantabulosa at Wulfrun Shopping Centre will be entering a world of storytelling and glitter.

Two poetry pigeons will be roaming the streets offering up food and gossip. The Orchestra of Chaos will be drowning the city centre in musical mayhem.

There’s also a giant outdoor film screen which has been programmed by Flatpack. Shoppers are invited to bring a blanket and get cosy watching a number of short films – or to get the popcorn in for a screening of Ghostbusters.

“I’m really excited about the free street performances and activities happening in the city centre on the two Saturdays of the festival, which include our commissions Pigeon Pals and Laurel & Hardy,” adds Jenny.

“A highlight already was the moment we unveiled The Anthinaerium in the Mander Centre, which is a giant moving sculpture automata celebrating the Black Country, created by artist Luke Perry who worked with local people on the design.

“We had the fabulous Barbara Nice – as seen on Britain’s Got Talent – as associate director for our first festival and she gave us lots of laughs, and she’s back this year doing a kid’s comedy show at the Lighthouse on November 2.

“Black Country humour is unique, people love a good laugh and a joke and Funny Things celebrates this.”

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