Not being funny, but Bristol needed a laugh this week.
After the sporting and political fails on the European front, it was bound to get a mention. And of course, it did. The one good thing about Brexit is that it meant freshly written material at Bristol Comedy Garden last night.
Who better to take the piss out of the whole sorry state of affairs than a hilarious selection of pesky immigrants? Cue obvious joke: an American (Reginald D Hunter), a Canadian (Tom Stade) and an Irishman (Andrew Maxwell) walk into a Comedy Garden…
Your reviewer arrived at a muddy Queen Square to find a group of wet, disillusioned British comedy fans shielding soggy pizza from the drizzle under paper plates, and clutching an increasingly watered down beer in the other hand. Summer festival season is officially here.
In the nice dry tent, compere (and ex-Bristol resident) John Robins did a sterling, if slightly Partridge-esque, job of distracting the crowd from damp shoes and damp spirits and, within ten minutes, the mood was decidedly more cheerful.
Andrew Maxwell joked about his accent, his Muslim wife (and the trouble they have travelling together through airports), and about Catholicism and sex – the overarching theme being stereotypes and their ridiculousness. He recounted having spent his adult life being told to be afraid of teenagers wearing hoodies, when in fact the real enemy were to be found to be lurking in care homes – those ‘back in the golden era’ Brexiters.
Tom Stade looks like he walked straight out of Vegas in the fifties. He picked a bloke from the front row about the same age, and referred much of the set to him, as if they were just shooting the shit in a bar.
He mocked various British and Canadian things – Cash in the Attic (which should, in British style, simply be called Shit in the Loft) and jaywalking (because Canadians can’t be trusted to cross roads unassisted). He read the crowd well, and told us how at home he feels in Britain – a nation of immigrants and mixed-race people where you can’t tell who is from where by looking at them.
The finale was a great performance from the silky-toned and suitably cynical Reginald D Hunter (pictured top), who (though giving Brexit a fleeting mention) chose to position its misguided society divisions among a million others from across the world – putting Britain firmly, and hilariously in its place as (shock horror) not the most important little island on earth.
Liberal Bristol is obviously an easy crowd for this opinion: but the message nestled in amid the sarcasm was one of putting our differences aside, working together, and seeing the funny side. It was a celebration and much needed piss-take of the nonsense of perceived differences, conjuring the spirit of what Kurt Vonnegut called the ‘Granfalloon’: the ties we fabricate to justify our opinions, which are above all, meaningless, and when you really think about it, they’re pretty damn funny.
So thanks, Comedy Garden. We needed a good laugh at a time like this. Otherwise we’re just a bunch of damp, disillusioned Brits, moaning in the rain.
Bristol Comedy Garden continues in Queen Square until Sunday, July 3. For more info and to book tickets, visit www.bristolcomedygarden.co.uk