July is well-known to stand-up comedy fans as Edinburgh previews month: the time of year when the nation’s comics head out on the road to trial the new shows they’ll be taking to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and when canny venues and promoters race each other to book in mini-seasons of these Edinburgh previews, in neat little two-comic pairings each night.
And this July in Bristol is as busy, and as packed with top circuit talent, as ever.
The Comedy Box at the Hen & Chicken Studio runs its usual series of Edinburgh previews from July 16-26 (Tuesday-Friday nights), inviting a brace of comics each night to showcase the shows they’ll be taking up to this year’s Fringe.
The run includes a visit from the irrepressibly cheerful and self-mocking Lucy Porter, whose 2019 Fringe show Be Prepared looks back at her childhood hours spent at Brownies, where Lucy thought she’d be prepared for anything as long as she had her emergency 10p for a phone box, and knew how to tie a fisherman’s knot. Has life turned out to be that simple? Look in on Tuesday 16 to find out.
Elsewhere, on Thursday 18 Robin Morgan (writer for BBC Two’s The Mash Report and Radio 4’s The News Quiz) reflects on his dual roles as father to his son, and son to his father, and asks: what makes a good male role model, and man, in 2019?
On Tuesday 23 rising Irish comic Joanne McNally unveils her 2019 show, the beguilingly-titled The Prosecco Express. Joanne is interested in a lot of things, but particularly her purpose in life. If it’s not marriage and kids, what is it? Who will look after her when she’s old? Will science mean she can freeze her head so she can be defrosted sometime in the future?
On Wednesday 24 Daliso Chaponda looks at disgraced, blacklisted celebrities and historical figures whom we’re ashamed to have once admired. There’s also the small matter of family member arrests, exploding buildings in his home country, and the enterprising Malawian who tried to blackmail him… should be, as ever with this likeable, effervescent comic, a helluva ride.
Bristol’s ace comedy promoters Chuckle Busters are also in full-on Edinburgh preview mode this month, sprinkling their own previews across both the Wardrobe Theatre and Tobacco Factory Theatres. Across two weeks at the former, highlights include the pairings of Eton and Oxford-educated Ivo Graham, whose comedy makes much of his own gaucheness and lack of social sophistication, and the experimental firebrand Alfie Brown ( “like a British Doug Stanhope” – The Guardian) on July 14, award-winning Aussie expat Sarah Kendall (whom you may remember as a flaky nanny on BBC2’s brilliant Motherland back in 2016) and BBC Asian Network breakout talent Eshaan Akbar on July 20. The Wardrobe mini-season ends in some style with a pair-up of two great surrealists and nonsense-mongers, Spencer Jones and Mat Ewins, on July 23.
Over at Tobacco Factory Theatres, the compact four-night run of Edinburgh previews includes double bills from Bristol’s own Jayde Adams, in company with the dry, self-deprecating John Hastings on July 11, and breakthrough duo Sarah Keyworth and Lorna Shaw (both pictured top) on July 12.
Last but not least, A Bunch of Japes comedy night at Smoke & Mirrors magic bar just off the foot of Park Street continues its season of Edinburgh previews with guests including Rhys James and Paul McCaffrey (July 3), Patrick Spicer and Micky Overman (July 10) and Sunjai Arif and Andrew White (July 23).
So, get out the diary and credit card and make sure you catch at least a couple of what may become the year’s most talked-about shows as they pass through town…