Club Tropicana

Nottingham Comedy Festival 2017

27 October 17 interview: Matt D'Alesio

We spoke to the founder of Nottingham Comedy Festival, Helen Stead, ahead of the big event next month...

What made you decide to start the Nottingham Comedy Festival?
The festival started back in 2009. At the time, I was a member of a local, improvised comedy group and was seeing first-hand the great comedic talent Nottingham had to offer. There wasn’t anything around to celebrate this, and we felt Nottingham would be a great city for a comedy festival. We wanted to give performers of all levels an opportunity to perform, and audiences an opportunity to experience comedy of all varieties.

Which local act has stood out in the past?
There are too many to mention, but last year we had a couple of local acts – Jeanette Bird-Bradley and Ben Macpherson – sell out their debut shows. Knowing how nervous they were beforehand, it was great to see them do so well.

What about a non-local act?
We’ve had many acts come through the festival whose careers are now taking off. Romesh Ranganathan, Joe Lycett and Nathan Caton are three that spring to mind.

Which comedian, dead or alive, would you want to bring to the festival?
This is difficult. From those that have passed away, I’d probably go for Robin Williams or Morecambe and Wise. From those still alive, I would love to book Rowan Atkinson. His live show from the early nineties is still one of my favourites.

If you could get a non-comedian celebrity compere, who would it be?
Someone like Stephen Fry would make a great compere, he’s not a stand-up but he does know his comedy.

Tell us a crazy story that’s happened at the festival…
A couple of years ago, we had a promoter come to the festival with his comedy bus. The festival launch took place on the bus when it arrived, but unfortunately the weather was terrible so everyone – including the Lord Mayor – was crammed on this bus to hide from the rain, talking about fire-eating, among other things. Mixing comedians and dignitaries in this unusual space was definitely entertaining, some interesting conversations took place.

What other festivals and events in Nottingham do you love?
I love going to Splendour every year. It’s always great fun, despite the weather this year.

What are you most looking forward to for this year’s Nottingham Comedy Festival?
The thing I love the most is when an act performs to a great crowd. I wouldn’t like to choose just one act as they’re all so different, and I love the variety that the festival brings.

Nottingham Comedy Festival runs from Friday 3 - Saturday 11 November 2017.

Nottingham Comedy Festival website