On two November evenings, over 300 members of the public turned out to attend comedy gigs set in the warehouse of FareShare South West, a charity that tackles tackle food poverty in the region by redistributing perfectly good surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. The volunteer team cleared the warehouse, usually stacked with pallets of food, to allow for chairs and a ‘pallet stage’ to go up, and the two gigs, programmed by Bristol charity Belly Laughs, proved a great success, raising £5,000 for FareShare and a fellow Bristol charity.
On the Monday night, TV panel show regular (and former Bristol resident) Jon Richardson headlined, trialling new material in a 45-minute set, whilst a group of local comedians provided support.
The Tuesday event saw a show of female solidarity as an all-female lineup, headlined by Radio 4 regular Angela Barnes, took to the stage. Money raised for this second night was split between FareShare South West and One25, who support women trapped in, or vulnerable to, street sex work.
Comedian and Belly Laughs founder Mark Olver said: “When the team at FareShare South West and I first started chatting about the possibility of doing a fundraising event, I don’t think either of us imagined we’d sell out two gigs set in a warehouse. I’ve certainly never performed in a warehouse and I’m not sure Jon or Angela had either!
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“It was rough around the edges and far from polished as gigs go, but the comedy was top-notch and the people of Bristol seemed to love it. Usually Belly Laughs comedy events only take place in January in independent restaurants, so this has been a diversion from the norm, but it’s been a hit –so watch this space!”
CEO of FareShare South West, Julian Mines, says: “Seeing our warehouse full of paying guests in theatre-style seating ready to see brilliant comedians perform was a little surreal, to be honest. I think Jon Richardson probably wondered where he’d come when he was greeted with a pallet for a stage and a slightly dodgy mic stand, but his performance was great – as were all the other acts we saw across the two days.
“I’d like to thank all the comedians who performed without payment, caterers Bosh Bristol who came in and cooked for everyone, as well as Lost and Grounded Brewers who supplied the bar, donating 50% of the proceeds.”
For more information about FareShare South West, visit www.faresharesouthwest.org.uk
For more information about future Belly Laughs events, visit www.facebook.com/bellylaughsbristol