ARGComFest 2013

So this was the second year of the Actually Rather Good Comedy Festival (ARGComFest), and I got tickets early for the whole weekend. I arrived a little later than expected but luckily the show didn’t start on time. I checked out both the venues, but to be honest it seemed pointless as I had decided to stay downstairs pretty much all day.

John Kearns

John Kearns

I took a seat beside the ever lovely Rob and Dan Cook came on in an orange jumpsuit
and explained that doing this show was his punishment for throwing a quiche at a dog. A series of sketches followed which all pretty much hit the mark. He is very likeable, and I can see he’s grown up watching Rik Mayall.

I spotted Heather and moved over to join her. I had never seen John Kearns before, and I’m so glad I did. He make Brian Gittins look almost normal. Coming on stage in a Bernie Clifton style ostrich outfit (but much cheaper looking) he terrified the audience into submission. We all felt for this strange man, and at the end of his set he (for no obvious reason) decided to get changed to look like a lovely lady. He got all the men on stage to perform a mime with him. And I’m not going to tell you what it was, other than it was ever so slightly distasteful! Go and see him!

I’m familiar with John Luke Roberts through ACMS that he runs with the aforementioned Thom Tuck. Starting with his already legendary “Patricia Routledge” routine he want on to insult the audience indvidually with pre-written zingers. He even insulted an apple off a man’s head.

John Luke Roberts
John Luke Roberts

James Acaster absolutely nailed it. I watched him from the front row beside Neal as he explained in extremely minute detail why Yoko Ono was not to blame for the Beatles spiltting up. What a comic. I have only seen him a couple of times before. Why is he not massively popular? I had a break for lunch and came back to find Daniel Simonsen on stage. I took a bar stool and watched from the back. He seemed a little more nervous than usual, but of course the crowd loved him. There’s something about the way he holds himself, that makes it very hard to do anything but love him.

What can I say about Colin Hoult apart from he competely brought the house down. For me, he just edged out Acaster as the best act of the evening with his tall tales of Snottingham and The Carrot Horse. (though later quite a few people were raving about Aisling Bea, who I unfortunately didn’t see) One lad at the front was almost in tears laughing and Hoult used him a few times for audience participation. He was a little over keen though, but not to the point where the performance was being overshadowed.

Daniel Simonsen

Ed Aczel is an extraordinary comic. There are very little obvious jokes, and very little obvious charisma, but lots of flipboards and sideways writing. I had seen him before though and really wanted to see him again (hence missing Aisling Bea) and after the first 10 minutes when the audience were trying to work out what the hell was going on, they all bought into it, and the whole thing was a fantastic hour. I ended up on stage for what appeared to be far too long, answering various questions as part of his group therapy session.

By the end of the night I was getting pretty tired and joined Neal at the front to see Henry Paker. I didn’t know too much about him. He was going down really well, and maybe it was just my tiredness that stopped me laughing as much as I should have. He was more traditional than the previous comics, and Michael McIntyre and Eddie Izzard seemed to be his main influences.

I snuck out early and headed home to my lovely bed. I slept like crap though, so not sure how today is going to go. It’s a very strong line up for today with Tony Law, Michael Legge and Bridget Christie to look forward to as well as my first ever live Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown. I shall continue this blog when I get back tonight… See you later

Stuart Laws

So the second day has finished and what a great one it was! I got there around 1:30 and caught the end of Chris Boyd upstairs, where he was talking about surviving natural disasters which involved covering the entire crowd with a tarpaulin. I had missed the start so I wasn’t sure what was going on!

The first act I wanted to see was Stuart Laws. I had caught him at ARG last year and remember ending up on the stage to play the part of a mixing bowl. the mixing bowl routine made another appearance today but thankfully I could just relax in my seat. Most of the show was the same as last year but that’s not a criticism. Stuart is a very likable guy who interacts with the audience as well as I’ve seen anyone do it. After picking out Rob as the alpha male of the group (on account of him wearing a loud shirt and having his own harem) he discussed who likes to be the big spoon and the little spoon, and it ended up with a twitter friend of mine being invited on to the stage in order to avoid Stuart spooning him. All in all, very silly and a lot of fun!

Michael Legge

Michael Legge had kindly bought me a drink before Stuart’s show so I decided to repay the favour by taking a front row seat with Neal. (Yes, yes, I know I would have been there anyway.) Anyway, Michael’s new show “Free Wifi” is coming along really well, even though he doesn’t seem to think so himself, and he got some of the biggest laughs of any comic this weekend. I’m currently enjoying his soon to be legendary routine about his frog, and his doorway drinking companion, known only as “Ha Ha AIDS”. By August this is going to be such a top show and of course you should see him in Edinburgh. My brother and I are off to see Michael and Richard Herring do another preview in a couple of weeks, so I’m rather looking forward to that.

After a day and a half, it was finally time for me to venture upstairs. Tony Law was on. And no one in their right mind can miss Tony Law. Tony’s shows are always gloriously bamboozling in the early stages, and with many confusing historic references, this is no exception! I was puzzled for a while why Tony was telling one story in an New York Italian accent for some time, but it all became clear at the end. After the gig I bumped into Tony outside and he introduced me to his beautiful wife, Storm and asked me if I thought the show was good. I always find it amazing when a brilliant comic who has just done a great show seems to doubt themselves in any small way. But Tony has nothing to worry about, and of course this is another must see at Edinburgh.

I was planning on seeing a bit of Mae Martin before heading out for a little break, purely on the strength that

Tony Law

I didn’t know anything about her, and it was too hot upstairs to see Joe Lycett in what I imagine would be another packed show so I decided to watch Mae’s late replacement. I didn’t catch his name, and I was rather enjoying him until he started talking about Scottish independence. Now, I’m Scottish, but in no way patriotic (especially as I don’t get a vote) but when he came up with the line “The English laugh at the BNP and the EDL, the Scottish vote them in”, without any sort of punchline I got a bit annoyed. He was actually comparing the SNP to the far right. Anyway, I finished my drink and went for a walk up to the Oxford Arms. It was lovely and cool. When I got back I chatted with the comic (and have completely forgotten his name) and voiced my concerns (like the dick I am), and he was very charming about it and we had quite a pleasant conversation. So it all ended well.

Back upstairs for another comic I can never miss. The adorably furious Bridget Christie. I had seen her about a week or two ago do a preview but I couldn’t resist another one. Neal and I were in the second row this time, and both ended up laughing like idiots throughout, even at the jokes we had heard last week. Her show is an unapologetic show about feminism, and even though to some ears that may sound like a bit of a lecture, in true Bridget style, it is mainly gloriously silly. She speaks about her new habit of throwing out magazines in shops that are placed on the bottom shelf instead of the top, and I won a brilliant prize in her competition just for the boys in the audience. I won’t spoil the show for anyone else, but the prize is absolutely inspired.

Bridget Christie

By this time I was getting rather tired and planned to watch half of Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown, and then catch the end of Simon Evans. Pappy’s live podcast is even sillier in the flesh (Flesh being the operative word for Lloyd Langford and Tom!). By the time I got downstairs though, Simon had finished his set so I headed back upstairs for the end of the podcast.

I had one more drink with Heather and her friend then headed off to find we had missed the last tubes. Normally I would be really annoyed about this but today I was calm, relaxed and philosophical as I fired up Citymapper to find where the hell my bus stop was.

Well done ARGComFest for a brilliant weekend.

The Comedy Crawl is dead (hopefully.) Long live ARG !

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