Comedians stand up and save Slapstick Festival
A BENEFIT night starring some of the country's best-known comedians has raised more than £10,000 for the city's Slapstick Festival.
The festival of silent comedy, which takes place in January, has been running for eight years. This year some 5,000 people gathered for silent films presented by names such as Griff Rhys Jones, Ian Lavender and Bill Oddie.
But its future was thrown into doubt when Bristol City Council had to withdraw funding.
Rather than see the demise of such a unique event festival patron Graeme Garden stepped in to invite a host of comedians including Barry Cryer, Rory Bremner, Marcus Brigstocke and Lucy Porter to stand up and help raise funds.
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The star-studded night Stand Up for Slapstick took place at Colston Hall on Sunday and the funds raised mean it can continue for another year.
Mr Garden, who first shot to fame as a member of The Goodies, said: "'Every one of our stand-out stand up line-up who stood up for Slapstick was hilarious and the audience loved them all. I was delighted with the way the event was run, and especially by the eagerness of today's comedians to support the Slapstick Festival. They will be thrilled to hear that the money they helped raise will save Bristol's unique annual tribute to visual and silent comedy."
Festival organiser Chris Daniels said: "Without this fundraiser we could not have been able to put on a festival next year. This event means it can go ahead but we still need to secure ongoing support and sponsorship. We're not out of the woods yet but this brings us significantly closer to covering our shortfall."
Mr Garden became involved with the festival a few years ago after Mr Daniels found out about his love for silent comedy.
"A few years ago Chris got in touch with me asking me to get involved with the festival," he said. "I think he'd read somewhere I liked Buster Keaton. I fobbed him off for a few years but he was quite persistent.
"I came and presented some Buster Keaton films. And then I did some talks on Harry Langdon, a comedian I liked but didn't know a lot about, and Charley Chase, who I knew nothing of. I slowly became seduced into this world and am now the patron."
The stand up night saw comedy greats such as Barry Cryer and Arthur Smith take to the stage compered by Marcus Brigstocke.
Mr Brigstocke said: "Stand up for slapstick gig was a delight. The audience were so generous with their laughter and applause – the line up was a pleasure to introduce. The Colston Hall was a perfect venue – Bristol will always be my second home – the cause we were raising money for was a proper good'un and the backstage nibbles were nomulent. All in all a perfect end to a glorious weekend... Oh and no football – yippee."
Next year's Slapstick Festival takes place in Bristol at the Colston Hall and other venues between January 23 and 27. The programme will be announced in September at www.slapstick.org.uk.