David Mitchell is among the comedy legends lining up to take part in Bristol’s Slapstick Festival as the event returns to the city in 2022.
The Peep Show and Upstart Crow star will make his Slapstick Festival debut at Bristol Cathedral where he will be chatting to broadcaster Matthew Sweet about his favourite on-screen comedy moments.
The festival will run from January 26 - 30 and promises to see Bristol start the new year with one of the UK’s highest concentrations of comedy talent.
The full line-up includes Ronni Ancona, Barry Cryer, Jon Culshaw, Andy Day, Richard Herring, Armando Iannucci, Robin Ince, Peter Lord, Stephen Mangan, Paul McGann, Bill Oddie, Sally Phillips, Lucy Porter, Arthur Smith and Tim Vine.
There’s also the rare chance to see early Russian, Czech and Japanese silent comedies, the regional premiere of the new Chaplin documentary and events saluting the pioneering women from Hollywood’s youth.
Bill Oddie will be exploring why it’s funny when it hurts and there will be a live Zoom call with James Curtis about his new book: Buster Keaton: A Filmmakers’ Life.
Tickets start at £8.50 with concessions and different passes available.
Take a look at what’s on here:
EVENTS at WATERSHED
(Jan 26 – 30)
1 Canon’s Rd, Bristol BS1 5TX
WEDNESDAY 26th JANUARY
10:30 - Silent Ozu: Days Of Youth (1929)
The oldest known surviving film by legendary Japanese director Yasujirô Ozu, with an introduction by film historian David Robinson. Ozu’s debut feature film Days of Youth is a carefree and joyful romantic comedy that follows the extravagant efforts of two men unknowingly competing for the same girl. With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.
13:20 - Max Linder: Be My Wife (1924)
French-born Max Linder writes, directs and stars in the second of his three American films. In it, he plays a man determined to wed his fiancée but there’s a challenge: his sweetheart’s aunt doesn’t approve of the match and is equally determined to set her niece up with another. With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney and an online introduction from the Paris-based silent film champion and Lobster Films co-founder Serge Bromberg.
15:30 - My Grandmother (1929)
This gem of early avant-garde Soviet Union filmmaking was banned for almost 50 years because of its less than subtle political criticism. But what stands out more is the sophisticated blending by director Kote Mikaberidze of real action, animated sequences, modern editing techniques, bold satire and absurdist set designs as he unfolds the story of a sacked pen-pusher trying to win back his job. With an introduction from actor and admirer of early Russian cinema Paul McGann and live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.
17:20 - Silent Comedy Classic- Chaplin: The Circus (1928)
Charlie Chaplin once again dons his iconic ‘Tramp’ character in this film, released in 1928 when he was already a household name and one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. Includes the once-seen-never-forgotten sequence of the Little Tramp walking a tightrope with a group of monkeys on his back. With an introduction from film historian and film director Kevin Brownlow.
THURSDAY 27th JANUARY
10:00 - An Old Gangster Molls (1927)
This screwball silent comedy from Czechoslovakia stars Anny Ondra – later seen in a leading role in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Blackmail (1929). Here she appears alongside Czech greats Vlasta Burian and Jan W. Speerger in a plot which involves a factory owner and his uncle swapping identities and getting involved in physical comedy-rich incidents in a bid to escape marriage. With an introduction from Slapstick favourite, Lucy Porter and a live musical accompaniment by John Sweeney (piano) and Frank Bockius (percussion).
13:00 - First Women in Comedy - With Sian Norris and Lucy Porter
Stand-up star, author and broadcaster Lucy Porter and writer Sian Norris present a series of shorts and clips celebrating pioneering women directors, scriptwriters and actors in silent film comedy, including Alice Guy Blaché, Mabel Normand and Lois Weber, and discuss the films, the culture of the period and the shared/different experiences of women in comedy today. With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.
15:00 - Silent Comedy Classic – Harold Lloyd: The Kid Brother (1927)
Slapstick legend Harold Lloyd stars in one of the greatest ever silent comedies The Kid Brother, playing the timid youngest son of a sheriff who gets the chance to prove his worth when a medicine show run by con artists comes into town. With live piano accompaniment from John Sweeney, an introduction by film historian and film director Kevin Brownlow and a personal message from Suzanne Lloyd (the star’s granddaughter).
FRIDAY 28th JANUARY
10:00 - W.C. Fields: Sally of the Sawdust (1924)
This rare example of a D.W Griffiths comedy pairs silent film darling Carol Dempster with W.C Fields playing the suitably cantankerous role of a juggler and small time conman who is left, literally, holding the baby when the child’s mother dies, having been cut off by her high-born family. Together they form a double act but trouble follows when Sally, now grown up, becomes romantically involved with the son of one of her estranged grandfather’s friends. With an introduction from broadcaster and Fields fan Chris Serle, a personal message from Dr Harriet Fields (Fields’ granddaughter) and live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.
13:00 - The Patsy (1928)
This King Vidor film (also known as The Politic Flapper) shows that Marion Davies was much, much, more than the heavily promoted girlfriend of newspaper magnate W.R Hearst. In it, she is both hilarious and touching, with a fine talent for mimicry, as the awkward teenager hopelessly in love with her elder sister’s boyfriend & determined to catch his attention. With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney and an introduction by Ronni Ancona and Sally Phillips.
15:30 - Slapstick Conversations: Buster Keaton - With James Curtis
James Curtis, already widely admired for his biographies of Preston Sturges, W.C.Fields and Spencer Tracy, joins the festival live via Zoom from California, to discuss with Andrew Kelly his latest in-depth book: Buster Keaton: A Filmmakers’ Life. In collaboration with Bristol Festival of Ideas.
SATURDAY 29th JANUARY
9:30 - The Slapstick Lecture with Peter Krämer - A New Beginning: Buster Keaton and The Cameraman
The Cameraman (1928) was the first film Buster Keaton made as an employee at Hollywood’s most glamorous studio, MGM, after years of making hugely popular films for a company named after but neither owned nor managed by him. In this talk Peter Krämer, author of the BFI Film Classic on Buster Keaton’s The General, explores the reasons for the move, the challenges it caused and how this relates to the style and themes of The Cameraman and the initial impacts of its release.
11:15 - The Real Charlie Chaplin (2021) – regional premiere
Be among the first to see this new documentary, fresh from its debut at the London International Film festival. It interweaves in-depth interviews Chaplin gave to Life Magazine in 1966 with unprecedented access to archive footage and contributions by surviving members of his family members to deliver never-before-seen insights into one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. With an introduction by David Robinson, author of Chaplin’s official biography
14:00 - It’s Only Funny If It Hurts with Bill Oddie
Bill Oddie explores what Freud described as Schadenfreude and he sums up as “You’ve fallen down—I haven’t”, with examples from his own experiences of pain provoking laughter, especially as a member of The Goodies and clips from Tom & Jerry, Jackass, Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges and more.
SUNDAY 30th JANUARY
14:00 - Animation Fanatics with Peter Lord and Bill Oddie
Peter Lord (co-founder of Aardman Animations) and Bill Oddie (The Goodies) celebrate their shared passion for early animation by introducing a wide range of clips highlighting how the pioneers used stop motion and hand-drawing to create weird, wonderful, heart-warming and witty comedy work.
EVENTS at BRISTOL CATHEDRAL
Jan 27 - 28
THURSDAY 27 JANUARY
18:00 David Mitchell’s Top Comedy Moments
Comedian, writer and actor David Mitchell makes his Slapstick festival debut sharing his favourite moments of screen comedy with broadcaster and author Matthew Sweet. Find out who/what has helped shape the humour of an entertainer known to millions for his portrayal of Shakespeare in Ben Elton’s UPSTART CROW, as the host of Radio 4’s THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, as a team captain on WOULD I LIE TO YOU? and for the BAFTA-winning Channel 4 series PEEP SHOW. With an audience Q&A to follow.
20.00 Slapstick Divas
Hosted by Sally Phillips and Ronni Ancona
Two of today’s finest comic actors join forces to celebrate outstanding leading women from the golden age of silent comedy. The line-up includes a screening of SHOW PEOPLE (1928) starring Marion Davies, one of the stand-out characters in the recent Oscar-winning MANK; a Mabel Normand short and work by the pioneering French filmmaker Alice Guy
Blaché, claimed by many to have invented film features. With live musical accompaniment by the European Silent Screen Virtuosi led by Guenter A. Buchwald.
FRIDAY 28 JANUARY
19:30: Silent Comedy Gala
Hosted by Stephen Mangan &
with live musical accompaniment from the European Silent Screen Virtuosi
Actor, author and TV/radio presenter Stephen Mangan hosts the centre-piece of Slapstick 2022 – a gala evening of live music and laughter featuring a triple bill of stellar silent film comedies, including
big screen showings of Buster Keaton’s 1928 masterpiece The Cameraman plus shorts starring Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd.
EVENTS at the REDGRAVE THEATRE
2 Percival Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3LE
SATURDAY 29 JANUARY
Introduced by CBeebies star Andy Day
Children’s TV favourite Andy Day introduces a family friendly screening of PADDINGTON (2014) - director Paul King’s award-winning and Buster Keaton and Chaplin-influenced re-telling of the beloved Michael Bond stories about a Peruvian bear in London. With a souvenir Paddington Pack for all young ticket-holders and orange marmalade sandwiches. Natch.
15:30: Barry Cryer : An Audience with a Comedy Legend
BBC Points West presenter Alex Lovell quizzes national treasure Barry Cryer, 86, about his long, illustrious and still ongoing career in comedy and the very many stars he’s worked with including Tommy Cooper, Bob Hope, Morecambe and Wise, Richard Pryor, The Two Ronnies.
18:30: In The Best Possible Taste: Tim Vine salutes Kenny Everett
Tim Vine returns to Slapstick to share why he loves Kenny Everett, the much loved pirate radio and Radio One DJ who successfully transferred to TV with his ground-breakingly anarchic and inventive The Kenny Everett Video Show and its follow-ups. Tim Vine’s salute will be illustrated by clips from the programmes and a brief appearance by the legendary Barry Cryer, one of Everett’s scriptwriters
20:30: Desert Island Comedy Flicks with Richard Herring
Comedy podcasting pioneer Richard Herring becomes the first star to face a new Slapstick challenge – a clips-illustrated quizzing from stand-up, author and co-host of R4’s THE INFINITE CAGE about the 10 comedy films/shows they’d want to take with them if stranded on a desert island.
EVENTS at ST GEORGE’S BRISTOL
Great George Street, Bristol, BS1 5RR
SUNDAY 30 JANUARY
12 noon: Richard Herring
Join comedian and writer Richard Herring as he turns the interviewing skills honed on his award-winning podcast to quiz the latest in a long line-up of celebrity guests – the actor, impressionist and TV presenter Jon Culshaw. Richard pulls no punches in his interviews, frequently prying the most hilarious, original and surprising stories from his guests, and we expect nothing less when he sits down to probe Jon’s life and career.
14:30: Armando Iannucci - A Life in Satire
Armando Iannucci has been a major force in satirical TV/film comedy for more than three decades through his creation of works such as THE DAY TODAY, IN THE LOOP, IN THE THICK OF IT, VEEP and THE DEATH OF STALIN; his nurturing of comic talents including Steve Coogan, Chris Morris, Chris Addison, Richard Herring and Rebecca Front and his part in the invention of many enduring characters, Alan Partridge and Malcolm Tucker among them.
Here, with the help of clips, he shares his thoughts on how satire entertains, informs, shapes opinions, adapts for the times with comedian and fellow writer Robin Ince (co-presenter of Radio 4’s THE INFINITE MONKEY CAGE and the author of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING INTERESTED)
17:30: Arthur Smith: Laughs, Stories, a Song and a Poem
Settle down for a laughter-filled evening of off-the-wall humour with comedian, writer and broadcaster Arthur Smith- one of the stand-ups who revolutionized the world of light entertainment in the eighties and nineties and who is now a much-loved regular on TV/radio panel games and talk shows including QI, HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU and Radio 4’s LOOSE ENDS. Expect sublime playfulness crammed with jokes, anecdotes, short stories, poems and songs, and a generous helping of sass.