After the success stories of the Greenwich Comedy Garden and the Bristol Comedy Garden, the producers of these festivals have turned their attention to Brighton with the arrival of the Brighton Comedy Garden for its very first residency.
It’s been felt in some quarters that the suspension of the Brighton Comedy Festival a few years ago created a gap in the market. Siblings Will Briggs and Cass Randolph explained: “Brighton is famous for its vibrant arts and festivals scene, and we hope to add even more quality to that. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s good to be reminded of the absurdity and humour in life, and our acts have some of the most brilliantly absurd minds in the country.”
Which they have: filling their Big Top tent are a mixture of already long established names from the world of comedy like Alan Davies, Sara Pascoe, Sean Lock, Adam Hills and Zoe Lyons. Alongside are comedians currently riding their own wave of award nominations and fresh faces on TV panel shows, podcasts and Comedy Central new twists like Kiri Pritchard-McLean (The Guilty Feminist), Phil Wang (Taskmaster), Rachel Parris (The Mash Report) and Rose Matafeo – 2018’s Edinburgh Best Newcomer Award winner.
Unlike many comedy festivals which offer individual tickets to individual comics’ shows, the Brighton Comedy Garden presents its shows as a series of mixed bills, meaning that each ticket gets you four to five comedians in one go, with a different line-up featured in each performance. It does keep the festival vibe going however, as you’ll also find craft beers, street-food traders and summer-inspired cocktails at the bars surrounding the comedy main event.
In keeping with their appearances at a Garden for comedy, I asked a few of the featured comedians what their favourite outdoor activities might be. Suzi Ruffell, recently seen on Comedy Central’s The Comedy Bus, was brief but set the scene: “rosé in the garden.”
Ivo Graham set a different but equally clear landscape with his reply: “a long walk on the Wiltshire Downs with my father, discussing my career and the things he thinks I could be doing to improve it.”
Edinburgh Comedy award winner and podcaster John Robins was happy to enlighten: “Golf, golf, golf, golf, golf golf, golf... You can watch me play golf – badly – with Alex Horne via our YouTube Channel ‘BadGolf’.”
And finally – not everyone is as big a fan of fresh air. Comedian and podcaster Ed Gamble told me his favourite outdoor activity is “going outside, realising I have a fridge in my flat, and then going back indoors.” Turning that midnight hungry wander to the ice box on its al fresco head.
Brighton Comedy Garden, Preston Park, June 19-23, 7.30pm, June 22 3.45pm, £20-25