Review: Wentworth Comedy Festival

A marathon of stand-up and a showing of York’s improv outfit, The Shambles, this Wentworth event show-cased much of the fantastic comic talent that York has to offer


I had never been nor had the desire to go to Wentworth before Friday. Hurryingly biking over eerily illuminated bridges with duck quacks taunting my ineptitude to navigate our confined campus, I entered The Edge Bar. Arriving at the annual Comedy festival, I was welcomed by the heat of crammed bodies, an aroma of hops and a not-so-studious buzz.

Being obsessed with stand-up comedy, I came with unwittingly high expectations, subconsciously questioning: will these jesters be able to perform? Stand-up is a tricky art requiring endless audacity, wit, and originality. And I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.

There were eight stand-ups, so, of course, there were fluctuations of funny. The list of performers in order of appearance was: Jack Lawrence, David Maguire, Rory McGregor, Lewis Dunn, Blaine Kenneally, Tom Taylor, Sam Lacks, and Manraj Bahra. Special mention goes to Tom Taylor for his deadpan musical comedy which was a polished performance, every gesture, look, and word balanced and funny. Similarly, Manraj Bahra, who combined an alluringly quiet yet powerful voice with likeable – albeit strange – mannerisms and ironic, acerbic lines. The loveable George Hughes bounded around stage compering like a kangaroo on speed. Credit to him for intoxicating the room with energy, even if it became a bit pantomimic for minimalist me.

After the marathon of stand-ups and a beer break, The Shambles, York’s improv outfit, crowded on stage. Out of the aforementioned performers Rory, Lewis, Blaine, and George took to the stage, alongside Ed Greenwood, Louise Jones, Steph Bartlett, and Charles Deane. The improvisational games and narratives were conjured in dialogue with audience suggestion. I was stunned by the repeated creativity and hilarity of this motley bunch. The highlight for me was one of the final improvisations, an extended surreal narrative about the perfect beard with a lunar denouement. Special mention goes to Steph and Louise. Both these girls had me cracking up, defying mundane misogynists who cry “women just ain’t that funny, it’s biological”. The former was on the best form of the entire troupe, performing and retorting to the others with remarkable fluidity and alacrity.

There weren’t any Richard Pryors performing, but York’s campus has the racial diversity of the snow feathering outside my window, so why expect a mini Richard Pryor? There is talent in the bouillabaisse of York’s comedy, perhaps enough to concoct a future star of our generation.

Comedysoc have a show on Wednesday in V/045 at 7:30pm. It’s a double-bill of The Shambles (who you saw on Friday) and a satirical panel show ‘Have I Got News For York’ with guest panellists Chris West and Kallum Taylor. £2 entry for ComedySoc Members and £3 for non-members.

One comment

  1. Did they just end an article by essentially saying ‘There were no black people on stage, but nevermind, the fish soup was good anyway’?

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