Bath Comedy Festival

We asked Director Nick Steel to give us a plug for the three-week comedy festival, (which is fitting given their logo).

Bath Comedy Festival, which is in full swing, has twenty days in which to prove that the city isn’t just Jane Austen and Georgian splendour. The Festival shows another side of the queen city of the West, one which utilises myriad hidden venues, animates the streets and presents an extraordinary range of comedy offerings from household names to brand new up and coming talent.

Big names are represented by such worthies as Henning Wehn, Arthur Smith and Rory Bremner, whilst 120 newcomers compete for the Lovehoney Newcomer Award through twelve heats, two semi-finals and a grand final of the now nationally renowned New Act Competition, ensuring the future of comedy is in good hands.

If you can’t afford to go to Edinburgh, the vibrant and very fringey venue created by the folks at St James Wine Vaults, appropriately situated close to the posterior of the city’s grande dame the Royal Crescent, is the next best thing. Pot luck brings you a nightly array of cutting edge acts, for just £5 in advance or pay what you feel on the night (zilch if you hate the show!)

Nearer town, and a short brisk walk to your last train home is Bath Brew House, where you can catch a plethora of super stand-up in their tiny but perfectly formed venue.

Some people think the Brew House IS the festival and stray no further from their packed programme and proliferation of fine ales, but those who dare to cross the river will discover the wonders of Widcombe. This really is Bath Comedy central, an exciting flag-bedecked urban village offering pubs both gastro and real, coffee bars, independent shops, a superb deli, great takeaways and a hidden almost sub-tropical beer garden.

All this and the Festival’s two favourite venues: the intimate upstairs room at the Ring O Bells, with its programme of professional Edinburgh shows and previews from the likes of Maisie Adam, Matt Price, Nick Doody and Garrett Millerick, and the larger and recently rebuilt Widcombe Social Club. The latter, situated opposite the HQ of the famed Natural Theatre Company (appearing on a street near you!) is not your run of the mill working men’s club but a purpose-built arts and community hub open to all. The Sosh has two impressive function rooms and the bar is one of the cheapest in town.

At Widcombe Social you can see fabulous shows from top notch performers such as Jess Robinson, Arthur Smith, Marcel Lucont and Seymour Mace.

For you Bristol types, Widcombe is within spitting distance of both the bus and train stations, so why not make a night of it: take in a show, grab a curry and run and you’ll be home before you can say “Jane Austen, where’s she to?”