Slapstick Festival 2024

Slapstick Festival 2024

Featuring our long-awaited return of our cherished Gala to the venue where it all began, now renamed Bristol Beacon and looking and sounding truly glorious after its extensive refit.

This year we had over 30 unique comedy events and over the course of the week (Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 February) we had many illustrious guests such as Samira Ahmed, Hugh Bonneville, Marcus Brigstocke, Terry Gilliam, Harry Hill, Robert Lindsay, Sylvester McCoy, Lucy Porter, Tim Vine and Adam Hills (to name just some).

As ever, the line-up is a mix of silent comedy classics and rarities accompanied always by world-class musicians; nostalgic revivals; honours for modern day artists keeping the slapstick spirit alive; fresh looks at beloved stars of the past and not one, not two, but three regional premieres.

To see what was included in out 2024 festival, take a look below.

HUGH BONNEVILLE LEICA SL2 00365 v1 F Photo credit Gavin Bond

None of the above would be possible without the kind support of our major sponsors (Aardman Animations and the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery); the many supporters who offer help in cash or in-kind and the festival’s volunteers, advisers, venues and crews. We thank you all!

Events in Slapstick 2023

Below are the events we put on in 2023 including our main Slapstick Festival!

Slapstick Festival 2023

Slapstick Festival 2023

This was the 19th edition of Bristol’s very own Silent, Visual and Classic Comedy Festival.

Music has been a key ingredient of every Slapstick since the festival began, and for the 19th annual edition, we gave it extra special attention.

As well as live accompaniments to all our silent films, we celebrating some of the many marriages between comedy and music, including via classic mockumentaries, Beatles revelations and family-friendly movies filled with hit songs.

Alongside the musical comedy thread, there were events saluting the comic legacy of Michael Palin & Monty Python’s Flying Circus, including solo projects by Sir Michael and nods to people they influenced. Central to this, our 2023 guest curator, Sir Michael Palin joined us to introduce a selection of his favourite starring and non-starring films.

Sir Michael was not our only special guest; others in the live line-up include Rob Brydon, Harry Hill, Peter Lord, Alex Lovell, Griff Rhys Jones, Paul Mcgann, Stephen Merchant, Nigel Planer, Lucy Porter, Peter Richardson and all three members of The Scaffold.

As ever, much of the programme was dedicated to silent film comedy, its stars and innovators. With this, we were delighted to welcome some of the finest champions of cinema and comedy’s history, among them the Oscar-winning Kevin Brownlow, Oliver Double, Polly Rose and Steve Massa/Ben Model.

beatlesheaderportrait1

None of the above would be possible without the kind support of our major sponsors (Aardman Animations and the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery); the many supporters who offer help in cash or in-kind and the festival’s volunteers, advisers, venues and crews. We thank you all!

Events in Slapstick 2023

Below are the events we put on in 2023 including our main Slapstick Festival!

Save the Date: Slapstick 2024

Save the Date: Slapstick 2024

Date: Weds 14 Feb – Sun 18 Feb 2024
We’re on our way back. Save the date!

More details of the 2024 events to follow!

*Slapstick Festival is a not-for-profit silent/classic comedy festival that’s been celebrating the finest in vintage comedy for almost two decades

RedbubbleIcon

Slapstick Sunday: Feb 2023

Slapstick Sunday

Date: 19th February 2023
Time: 11.30am till late
Venue: Bristol Old Vic

On 19th February 2023, Bristol Old Vic is set to host some of the biggest comedy names in the UK for the city’s 19th edition of Slapstick festival.

At midday there’s a rare chance to see The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night (1964) on the big screen with pre-film introduction/chat from Scaffold lead singer, photographer and younger brother of Beatles legend Paul, Mike McCartney.

Our impressive roster of names continues with Sir Michael Palin, who will be joined by Stephen Merchant and Rob Brydon in two special events, which include a big screen outing of Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979).

The writer and comedian Stephen Mangan will be sharing his love of Laurel & Hardy and Cheryl Knight will perform her acclaimed one-woman show, paying tribute to the wit and wisdom of Joyce Grenfell.

There will also be a chance to participate in two live podcast recordings hosted by Robin Ince and Chris Grimes.

Michael Palin black jersey copyright John Swannell
Michael Palin: copyright John Swannell

Stranger Films, With Alasdair Beckett-King

The Slapstick Festival Presents:

Stranger Films

With Alasdair Beckett-King

Date: Saturday 12th November 2022
Time: 19:00 & 21:00
Venue: The White Bear: High Kingsdown, Bristol
Price: From £4 plus booking fee

Slapstick Festival is launching a brand new event in partnership with The Room Above Theatre at the White Bear and BFI: Stranger Films.

Discover the crazy world of early cinema with stand-up comedian, animator and video games writer Alasdair Beckett-King – named by Rolling Stone magazine as an unmissable act at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe, a favourite on Mock the Week and a YouTuber with more than 250K followers.

Films and clips line-up from the eccentric early pioneers of film comedy, including; Charley Bowers, George Melies and Ladislaw Starewicz.

This night aims to showcase the absurdly alternative comedy that paved the way for your favourite slapstick movies and physical comedians today.

You never know what to expect in these hilarious archival films, but we can tease with the fabulous Dancing Pig and delightfully funny scenes from Laurel and Hardy as they fight a crab 40 floors up on a scaffold.

Come early or stay on to enjoy some further strangeness downstairs in the White Bear Pub.

Stranger Films With Alasdair Beckett King
Stranger Films With Alasdair Beckett King

Post Event Buzz and Pictures

Thank you to Alasdair Beckett-King and all those behind the scenes for making this event such a success.

Here are a few pictures taken on the night

The Big Comedy Bash 2022

The Big Comedy Bash

Alan Davies – Ed Byrne – Stephen K Amos – Nabil Abdulrashid – Adam Hills – Jay Lafferty + more:

Date: Monday 7th November 2022
Time: 19:30
Venue: Hexagon, Reading
Price: £28.50 / £26 Concessions (including booking fees)

Slapstick Festival’s annual comedy fundraiser is back at Reading’s Hexagon theatre for a fifth year running with yet another outstanding series of top comedy performers lining-up to help raise funds for Bristol’s classic comedy festival*.

Hosted by Jay Lafferty, you can expect a rare comedy set from none other than the brilliant comedian and actor Alan Davies along with other comedy legends including Mock the Week star and comedian Ed Byrne, Stand up comedian and television personality Stephen K. Amos, satirical comedian Nabil Abdulrashid, and The Last Leg host and comedian Adam Hills

slapstick comedy Jay LaffertyAlan Davies Ed Byrne Steph

Slapstick Festival 2022

Slapstick Festival 2022

For 2022 The Slapstick Festival of visual comedy announced a fantastic line up of comedy and comedy writing talent from the likes of Stephen Mangan, David Mitchell, Sally Phillips, Ronni Ancona, Richard Herring, Armando Iannucci, Arthur Smith, Lucy Porter and many more.

There were also significant contributions from a number of film biographers, writers and historians such as James Curtis, Sian Norris, David Robinson, Ben Model, Steve Massa.

We were also honoured to have the granddaughters of Harold Lloyd and WC Fields introduce their Grandfather’s work.

Rob Brydon, Harry Hill, Robin Ince, Chris Serle, Paul McGann and a plethora celebrities helped to make for a thoroughly memorable festival.

Our ‘post-festival’ events included an evening with Tim Vine, Lee Mack and comedy legend Barry Cryer.

See our 2022 festival guide and also the individual events below.

Teaser 2022 mobile 10

Events in Slapstick 2022

Below are the events we put on in 2022 including our main Slapstick Festival!

Legacy award for the Tiswas team

Legacy award for the Tiswas team

On April 16th 2022, Chris Tarrant, Sally James, John Gorman, Bob Carolgees and Benny Mills (The Phantom Flan Flinger), reunited for an evening of fun. They were accompanied by Matthew Lewis who reprised the performance of the Watership Down theme BRIGHT EYES that he gave, dressed as a rabbit, as a five year old in 1980.

The performers were also there to receive their Legacy Awards, given in recognition of creating significant new work in the medium of silent and visual comedy.

Below are some pictures from the evenings entertainment, courtesy of David Betteridge

Chris Tarrant and John Gorman
Chris Tarrant and John Gorman
tiswas

Tiswas Stars Reunite for One-Off Reunion

Tiswas Stars Reunite for One-Off Reunion

Our slapstick season finished on an absolute high, with the stars of the classic children’s TV series Tiswas reuniting for an evening of fun and mayhem.

Chris Tarrant, Sally James, John Gorman and Bob Carolgees, along with Spit the Dog, were among those that took to the stage on April 16th for this special event.

Sally James unmasked the Phantom flan Flinger, who turned out to be retired Birmingham taxi driver Benny Mills, now 87.

Matthew Lewis reprised the performance of the Watership Down theme BRIGHT EYES he gave as a five year old in 1980 accompanied by his daughter Nova, five, wearing the original rabbit costume.

The event concluded with The Four Bucketeers and Phantom Flan Flinger receiving the Slapstick Comedy Legacy Medal, honouring those entertainers who continue the comedy traditions of the silent film era.

Tiswas: The Reunion was a co-production between Bristol’s Slapstick Festival and Bristol Ideas and was a fund-raiser for Childen’s Hospice South West.

Below are some pictures from the evenings entertainment, courtesy of David Betteridge

Chris Tarrant and John Gorman
Chris Tarrant and John Gorman
tiswas

Slapstick Sunday

Slapstick Sunday

Our last full day of festival events began with Paddington (2014), introduced by Andy Day, and concluded with Lee Mack’s hilarious Desert Island Comedy Flicks.

In between there was a moving tribute to the late great Barry Cryer hosted by his friend and long-time comic collaborator Les Dennis, with Barry’s Son Bob Cryer along with regular collaborators on I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Graeme Garden and Colin Sell.

This event was followed by the awesome Tim Vine, who paid a tribute to comedy legend Kenny Everett.

Below are some pictures from the evenings entertainment, courtesy of David Betteridge

tim vine lee mack

Tiswas: The Reunion

Event Recently Ended

Tiswas: The Reunion

Date: Sat 16th April 2022
Time: 20:00pm
Venue Website: St Georges Bristol
Map: St Georges Bristol
Price: £12-£25 Plus booking fees

In collaboration with Bristol Festival of Ideas and for one night only, a unique opportunity to see TV comedy legends Bob Carolgees, John Gorman, Sally James and Chris Tarrant as they re-unite on stage to discuss their much-loved show Tiswas.

It’s been 40 years this April since the launch of the programme, a Saturday-morning highlight for many children – and perhaps even more adults – from 1974 to 1982.  This is a rare chance to see all four Bucketeers together in person as they share their Tiswas memories with Bristol Ideas Director and passionate fan of the show, Andrew Kelly.

The performers will be presented with Slapstick’s Comedy Legacy Medal for their phenomenal achievement in comedy which followed in the footsteps of the late great silent comics but with their own brand of anarchic/slapstick humour – from the Dying Fly and Spit the Dog to the Phantom Flan Flinger and endless custard pies.

In support of Children’s Hospice South West.

The Big Comedy Bash 2022

Event Recently Ended

The Big Comedy Bash 2022

Date: Tuesday 12th April 2022
Time: 20:00
Venue: Hexagon: Queen Walk, Reading. RG1 7UA
Price: £24.50 / £22.50 (including booking fees)

Hosted by Al Murray, with the following acts: Angela Barnes, Rory Bremner, Shazia Mirza (plus two more names TBA).

Slapstick Festival’s annual comedy fundraiser is back at Reading’s Hexagon theatre for a fourth year running and this line-up is better than ever!

Six standout stand up comedians top the bill at this one off evening of mirth and laughter – and all to raise funds for Slapstick, the not-for-profit silent/classic comedy festival that’s been celebrating the finest in vintage comedy for almost two decades. 

Hosted by the comedy legend Al Murray’s Pub Landlord, Al will be introducing a bevy of top comic talent for the evening including the Impressionist and satirist Rory Bremner, award-winning “live at the Apollo’ star Angela Barnes, the trailblazing iconoclast and stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza, stand-up comedian and talented mimics Luke Kempner, and winner of the Mercury Comedian of the Year award Alasdair Beckett-King

Join us for this unforgettable night of laughter and fun.  

Trafic (1971)

Event Recently Ended

Trafic (1971)

Date: Sat 2 April 2022
Time: 6.00pm
Venue Website: Arnolfini
Map: Arnolfini
Price: £8.50 / £6.00 concs

Over looked by many, Tati’s Trafic sees the bumbling Monsieur Hulot, kitted out as always with tan raincoat, beaten brown hat, and umbrella, take to Paris’s highways and byways.

In this, his final outing, Hulot is employed as an auto company’s director of design, and accompanies his new product (a “camping car” outfitted with absurd gadgetry) to an auto show in Amsterdam.

Naturally, the road there is paved with modern-age mishaps. This late-career delight is a masterful demonstration of the comic genius’s expert timing and sidesplitting knack for visual gags, and a bemused last look at technology run amok.

Trafic 1971

Playtime (1967)

Event Recently Ended

Playtime (1967) + Onstage Discussion

Date: Sat 2 April 2022
Time: 2.15pm
Venue Website: Arnolfini
Map: Arnolfini
Price: £8.50 / £6.00 concs

Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in an age of high technology reached their apotheosis with his 1967 film Playtime.

For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the lovably old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a baffling modern Parisian world.

With every inch of its super wide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, Playtime is a lasting record of a modern era tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion.

Introduced by Matthew Sweet (Radio 4’s Free Thinking) and followed by an onstage conversation with Matthew hosted by festival of ideas Director Andrew Kelly discussing Tati’s legacy.

playtime 1

Mon Oncle (1958)

Event Recently Ended

Mon Oncle (1958)

Date: Sat 2 April 2022
Time: 11.15am
Venue Website: Arnolfini
Map: Arnolfini
Price: £8.50 / £6.00 concs

Slapstick prevails when Jacques Tati’s hero Monsieur Hulot is set loose in Villa Arpel, the geometric, oppressively ultramodern home of his brother-in-law in the suburbs of Paris. Young Gérard Arpel is very fond of his gauche uncle and the children in his neighbourhood but his disapproving parents resolve to get Hulot a job or a wife.

The disastrous outcome is a masterpiece of design and symmetry and of technically brilliant gags.

The heart-warming ending is true to Tati’s vision of the modern world as a confusing place that is ultimately full of charm and humanity.Jaques Tati’s multi-award-winning third feature, Mon Oncle is his first colour film and is a supremely amusing satire of mechanized living and consumer society that earned the director the Academy Award for best foreign-language film.
With specially recorded onscreen introduction from film historian and archivist Serge Bromberg.

mon oncle

Tati Day: Pass to all 3 films

Event Recently Ended

Tati Day: Pass to all 3 films

Date: Sat 2 April 2022
Time: 11:15 – 20:20
Price: £20.00 / £15.00 concs

  1. Mon Oncle (1958): Film screening with introduction (U / France / 117 mins) 11:15-13:30
  2. Playtime (1967): Film screening with introduction and discussion (U / France / 124 mins) 14:30-17:15
  3. Trafic (1971): Film screening with introduction (PG / France / 96 mins) 18:30-20:20

Watch all three films with our Tati Day Pass, alternatively you can buy a ticket for each fim separately.

Jaques Tati playtime website internal

This programme is part of Opening Up the Magic Box, a heritage element of Film 2021 which marks the centenary of the death of Bristol-born film pioneer William Friese-Greene and the 125th anniversary of the first public cinema screening in Bristol, which took place at the Tivoli on 8 June 1896, as well as celebrating Bristol – a UNESCO City of Film since 2017. It is generously funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Tati Day is also part of Future City Film Festival. The festival normally takes place every two years in the autumn but had to be postponed last year due to the pandemic. It will now run through 2022 as a series of special events. We are grateful to the British Film Institute for their support for the festival. 

Barry Cryer: A Tribute

Event Recently Ended

Barry Cryer: A Tribute

Date: Sun 27th March 2022

The national outpouring of sorrow and tributes at the passing of our friend Barry Cryer proved that he was the supreme British mirth-maker, a unique giant in the history of British comedy, to rank with mythical titans like Grimaldi, Dan Leno and George Robey.  Yet even they each created only one character:  Barry’s comedic  invention did much to recognise the genius and shape the skills and style of several generations of star comedians.

The originally planned programme of Slapstick 2022 included a live show celebrating Barry in person.  This show and celebration will now go on, hosted by his friend and long-time comic collaborator Les Dennis, with Barry’s Son Bob Cryer along and his regular collaborators on I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Graeme Garden and Colin Sell. 

The evening is an opportunity to celebrate Barry’s memory and genius, presented by those who knew him best

Please join us in this celebration of Baz’s finest moments and memories – and a generous dose of parrot jokes.

All profits from the event will go to Barry’s favourite cause:  The Royal Variety Charity

Our Dear Friend Barry Cryer

2013 Barry Cryer 2 1

Hello everyone,

As you will no doubt have heard, yesterday we learnt the news that we had lost a singular comedy genius and very dear festival friend, Barry Cryer.  

We first met Barry in 2009 when he came to Bristol with Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and the Clue team to raise money for the festival with an ISIHAC show at Bristol Hippodrome. Right from the start, Baz was a delight. Year after year, he joined us for our annual celebration of classic comedy in Bristol, bringing with him his trademark charm, generosity, passion for new comedy and extensive knowledge of parrot jokes!

Over the last thirteen years, Baz performed in at least 14 events at Slapstick, most notably when he received the coveted Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award in 2015. Some of the other shows he helped create with us included celebrations of Morecambe & Wise, Tommy Cooper and Kenny Everett, for whom he wrote. He also performed a few times at Slapstick with his musical comedy teammates: Colin Sell and Ronnie Golden.

Barry was a friend, a patron and, without a shadow of a doubt, the godfather of comedy. Barry hasn’t left a hole in the fabric of light entertainment, he’s left a chasm that simply can’t be filled. 

Our hearts go out to Barry’s wife Terry and his whole family at this difficult time.

We will continue to champion Barry’s incomparable legacy for years to come.

We know Barry would want the festival to go on despite this news, and so it will. We spent yesterday exchanging stories about Barry and telling each other some of his best jokes. If you have a fond recollection of Barry – or a favourite joke – we’d love to hear it. 

RIP Barry Cryer. Born 23 March 1935; died 25 January 2022.

Chris Daniels,

Slapstick Director

Barry Cryer at Slapstick

Screening Notes

Screening Notes

We have screening notes for a number of our programmes, you will find them on the programme pages for the individual films. Clicking the links below will take you to the film pages:

The Circus

An Old Gangster Molls

Sally of the Sawdust

pre festival imagery

Stop Motion Animation – A Timeless Art Form

Stop Motion Animation – A Timeless Art Form

aardman animation wallace gromit 1

For years animation has been one of the most impressive and entertaining disciplines in cinema. Developing from simple flip books to modern CGI graphics it continues to dazzle and develop year after year. Of Course the technicality of it is incredibly impressive, but the thing that has kept animation at the forefront of film for so many years is its universal humour and unique blend of surrealism and hyperrealism. Animated films were designed to bring joy to everyone, it’s done just that since its inception and it continues to do so. 

Moving images and animation go back thousands of years, from puppeteering and shadow plays all the way up to the first genuine animated film, made using the ‘Théâtre Optique’. A device created by Charles-Émile Reynaud, the Théâtre Optique, allowed transparent paintings to be projected over a background, and shown in a way that emulated movement, It was first used in 1892 to screen a series of animated short films, heralding the beginning of a century of developments in animation. 

Using the Théâtre Optique, drawings came to life and became more fluid through rotoscoping. They also eventually appeared in colour, thanks to the film tinting technique. This continued development would go on for years and years, to this day still animation techniques are getting more and more complex and intricate. 

With all this constant development some films can get lost in the past, but one filmmaker’s innovation is still being used to draw constant inspiration. Wladyslaw Starewicz is the founder of modern stop motion animation, originally a professor of biology he was asked to create an educational film exploring how beatles would engage in a fight. But it appeared the beatles would not fight under the lighting required to film the event, angered by this Sterewicz took matters into his own hands and ended up creating the principles for what would be the basics of stop motion. 

He would attach the separate limbs of the bugs to strings, occasionally replacing specific body parts with plastic, the result was these incredibly realistic and human-like movements. Sterewicz went on to create many more incredible films, all using beatles and other bugs but

telling incredibly human and emotional stories. The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912) tells a simple story of infidelity, a short tragic comedy made using stop motion bugs. The incredible attention to detail is what made this film the masterpiece it is, every minute movement is accounted for and the result is this magical piece of cinema. Stop motion animation would stay true to its originator, continuing to be an art form for absolute perfectionists whose obsession with precise details allows them to create some of the most jaw dropping films.

wladyslaw starewicz stop motion

Think of Fantastic Mr Fox by Wes Anderson or the incredible Wallace and Gromit series by Aardman Animations. 

Both Anderson and Aardman have noted that their inspiration came from Wladyslaw Starewicz. Indeed, if you were to watch Le Roman de Renard – roughly translated to The Story Of The Fox – you would see many similarities between it and Fantastic Mr Fox. 

As we mentioned before, animation is an ever-adapting and changing art form. Contemporary examples of stop motion have become intertwined with CGI technology. But by no means has this changed the principles it was founded on. They are still about perfectionism and continue to tell incredibly human and emotional stories. 

Aardman studios’ recent body of work showcases perfect examples of this. The Academy Award winning studio began as a project by two students, Peter Lord and David Sproxton, animation fanatics who made innovative strides in claymation.

Wallace and Gromit

Now a major film studio, Aardman uses thousands of talented artists in combination with CGI technology while still staying true to the art of stop motion and continuing to tell entertaining and beautifully charming stories. 

At Slapstick, we have an incredibly close relationship with Aardman and appreciate the lengths they go to to keep such a timeless art form alive. We will be welcoming Peter Lord back to the festival this year to discuss some of the animations that inspired him and celebrate the unique blend of surrealism and visual comedy that animation does best.

Best of The Best – Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd

Best of The Best – Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd

Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin. All three began their careers more than a century ago, yet all still maintain their places as the greatest names in on screen comedy. Their films are still constantly discovered by new generations of lucky audiences who can now see them with worthy musical accompaniment – in Chaplin’s case, of his own composition.

What was special about these three was that they were not only the stars, but conceived, wrote and for all practical purposes, directed their own films. They were the total creators. Needless to say, they performed all their own stunts, however perilous: there could be no doubles for such personalities. 

For Slapstick 2022 we have chosen each one’s last or penultimate silent film. Talking pictures had arrived, with The Jazz Singer (1927), but our stars did not rush to adopt sound, and Chaplin, though he was to make use of musical sound-tracks, did not speak on screen until 1940. 

The Camera Man

Keaton’s marvellous The Cameraman (1928) was the first film he made after giving up his own studio to move to MGM – a sacrifice of independence which he rightly came to regard
as the worst mistake of his life. His budget was assured, but he was an employee, subject to the producer’s final word and whim. He was no longer permitted to risk doing his own stunts – and no-one else could do them.

Perhaps the producers had not yet learned to exert their full control when he made his first MGM film The Cameraman (1928). Despite the studio, The Cameraman (1928) still has the qualities of Keaton’s great silent films: his uniquely expressive physical comedy that belies the “stone face”, in the service of a gripping narrative.

The film was Keaton’s penultimate silent movie, as was Harold Lloyd’s spectacular The Kid Brother (1927). Lloyd, like Chaplin, retained his creative autonomy and was one of the comparatively few actors to make a triumphant transition to sound films.

Lloyd, sporting his indispensable lens-less horn-rimmed spectacles, plays Harold Hickory, a hick from Hickoryville, who plays the substitute housewife in a family of overly manly men. He has a chance to prove his worth and clear his family name when a group of con artists menace town.

It is an ingenious blend of slapstick, horror, romance and inventive gags. It was one of Lloyd’s own favourites and one of most impressive monuments of silent comedy 

Upon release, it was a smash hit, both at the box office and among critics. Made at the apex of Lloyd’s career – and of silent film – it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive pieces of silent comedy.

The Kid Brother
4 Chaplin The Circus 1928

It is as common for filmmakers to have a favourite as to have a film they try to forget.

In Chapin’s case the making of The Circus (1928) proved the worst year of his working life. The trouble was not the film but the circumstances surrounding its production.

Throughout the year he was battling a merciless divorce case brought by his wife Lita Grey. Her lawyers fought – and sometimes succeeded – to take possession of Chapin’s assets, including the studio and the negatives, which the crew was always having to secrete or smuggle elsewhere. This was only the start.

The shooting began with the difficult tightrope scenes for which Chaplin and the film’s romantic lead Harry Crocker, had been tirelessly rehearsing. The scenes were successfully shot – but the lab fouled up all the negatives.

Then the set was destroyed by a fire. Because of delays, when they went back to reshoot location scenes, they found the places had been transformed by Hollywood’s rapid development.

Finally, with relief, they set up the film’s final scene in a remote location, where the whole horse-drawn circus train goes off into the distance, leaving Chaplin deserted and alone. All was ready, but when they returned in the morning, everything had disappeared, stolen by mischievous students.

Incredibly the film was finished – to become one of Chaplin’s finest and most faultless silent comedies, with scenes of incredible virtuosity like the hall of mirrors or the climactic scene where Chaplin, balancing on the high wire, is assaulted and de-trousered by a gang of monkeys. It received a special award at the very first Oscar ceremony (nothing like today’s spectacle – just a banquet in the Roosevelt Hotel). But for Chaplin it would always evoke memories of that tormented year.

Forty years later, in 1968, Chaplin finally felt able to return to the film, to release it with his own accompanying score, and a title song, ”Swing Little Girl”, for which a top pop singer of the moment, Matt Monro was contracted. However, Chaplin’s musical arranger Eric James however decided that the 81-year-old Chapin performed it better, so it is his voice we hear over the titles of The Circus.

These three great films all have one notable cast member – a monkey, who saves the day for Keaton, leads the de-bagging of Chaplin, and helps Lloyd sail. This unique simian star is Josephine, whose showcasing career in major films extended from these three films and Street Angel (1928) all the way to Arabian Nights (1942).

But Josephine is not the only thing these films have in common. They represent the finest work of the three great comedy legends of cinema, and they mark the climactic end of the silent era. They also happen to ALL be featured at the 18th edition of Slapstick Festival. Be sure to seize this opportunity.

The Camera Man Monkey

The Goodies Forever

Event Recently Ended

The Goodies Forever

With Robin Ince & Friends

Date: Saturday 29th January 2022
Time: 2:20pm
Venue Website: Watershed
Map: Watershed
Price: £8.50/£5.00

In 2020 Tim, Bill and Graeme attended a special 50th anniversary event at Slapstick celebrating The Goodies onstage with Robin ince.

As Bill Oddie is now sadly unable to make Slapstick 2022 due to complications related to covid, Robin Ince, comedian and host of infinite monkey cage, will be celebrating the work of those super chaps: The Goodies by hosting a celebration of their best moments onscreen.

Robin has reached out to fellow comedians, writers and friends and asked them to record an onscreen introduction to their favourite moment from The Goodies.

Watch out for Tim Vine, Rob Brydon, Harry Hill and a plethora of surprise celebrity fans as they choose their favourite moments from the classic tv series.

Please Note: This Event replaces It’s Only Funny When It Hurts lecture with Bill Oddie which we hope to reschedule in the near future.

the goodies event

Barry Cryer: An Audience With A Comedy Legend

Barry Cryer

We will be issuing an update shortly, following today’s very sad news 27-01-2022

An Audience With A Comedy Legend

Date: Sun 27th March 2022
Time: 3:30pm
Venue Website: Redgrave Theatre
Map: Redgrave Theatre
Price: £18 – £16, plus booking fee

Barry Cryer is currently 86 and a third of his life has passed already! He invites you to join him in a decorous orgy of comic nostalgia in this ‘slapstick conversation’ onstage and in person with his host, BBC’s very own Alex Lovell.

Barry’s long standing career has been nothing short of outstanding. His unique brand of comedy has spread across generations like wildfire, having written for some of the all time comedy greats like Tommy Cooper, Bob Hope and Richard Pryor.

He embodied that golden age of comedy where comedians seem to just glide onto the stage and have you in a laughing fit before they even reach the mic.

Still working today, a testament to his persistent professionalism, Cryer continues to claim his long standing seat on the ubiquitous panel show ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’. 

Join for Jokes, stories and much more as Barry discusses his incredible unmatched life in comedy. A life packed full of memories…if only he can remember them…?! 

Lee Mack’s Desert Island Comedy Flicks

Event Recently Ended

Lee Mack’s Desert Island Comedy Flicks

Date: Sun 27th March 2022
Time: 20:30pm
Venue Website: Redgrave Theatre
Map: Redgrave Theatre
Price: £18/£16 Plus booking fees

Lee Mack teams up with Slapstick Festival as part our Slapstick Sunday’s series of events at the Redgrave Theatre this March. 

The prolific actor, writer comedian, best known for his appearances in his award-winning long running sit-com’ ‘Not Going Out’ and as team captain in ‘Would I Lie To You?’ discusses the comedy feature films he would he choose if he was stranded on a desert island but could only bring 10 films with him. Followed by a Q&A.

Leading the chat will be Bristol’s very own Jayde Adams, winner of multiple stand-up awards, and seen recently in Stephen Merchants Outlaws

Lee Mack

In The Best Possible Taste! Tim Vine salutes Kenny Everett

In The Best Possible Taste!

Tim Vine salutes Kenny Everett

Date: Sun 27th March 2022
Time: 18:30pm
Venue Website: Redgrave Theatre
Map: Redgrave Theatre
Price: £18/£16 Plus booking fees

Tim Vine adores Kenny Everett and wants to tell the world why.

Following his recent successful outing performing in homage to one of his great musical favourites – Elvis Presley (in the guise of Plastic Elvis) Tim returns to Slapstick Festival to champion one of his great comedy heroes, Kenny Everett.

Renowned and revered DJ Kenny exploded onto our small screens in 1981 with his wonderful Kenny Everett Video Show (1981-88).

The series was an instant hit utilising Kenny’s innovative jingles, multi-track recordings and ground breaking comedy sketches. Scripted by Barry Cryer and Ray Cameron the show had an intentionally anarchic and unpredictable live broadcast feel which all contributed to its popularity and legacy.

Tim shares his passion for Kenny with a series of extracts and a brief onstage appearance from none other than the legendary Barry Cryer.

Slapstick 2022 TimVine Instagram

BARRY CRYER: A Tribute With a Little Help from His Friends

BARRY CRYER: A Tribute With a Little Help from His Friends

Date: 27th March 2022
Time: 3:30pm
Venue Website: Redgrave Theatre
Map: Redgrave Theatre
Price: £16-£18 Plus booking fees

The national outpouring of sorrow and tributes at the passing of our friend Barry Cryer proved that he was the supreme British mirth-maker, a unique giant in the history of British comedy, to rank with mythical titans like Grimaldi, Dan Leno and George Robey. Yet even they each created only one character: Barry’s comedic invention did much to recognise the genius and shape the skills and style of several generations of star comedians.

The originally planned programme of Slapstick 2022 included a live show celebrating Barry in person. This show and celebration will now go on, hosted by his friend and long-time comic collaborator Les Dennis, with Barry’s Son Bob Cryer along and his regular collaborators on I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Graeme Garden and Colin Sell.

The evening is an opportunity to celebrate Barry’s memory and genius, presented by those who knew him best

Please join us in this celebration of Baz’s finest moments and memories – and a generous dose of parrot jokes.

All profits from the event will go to Barry’s favourite cause: The Royal Variety Charity

Show at 3:30pm

Paddington (2014): Introduced by Andy Day

Paddington (2014)

Introduced by children’s TV star Andy Day 

Running time 95 mins

Directed by Paul King 

Date: Sun 27th March 2022
Time: 12:30pm
Venue Website: Redgrave Theatre
Map: Redgrave Theatre
Price: £10.00 (adult), £5.00 (Children)

A rare chance to see the BAFTA award-winning, much celebrated first outing of Michael Bond’s beloved bear’s transition to the big screen. Slapstick’s special one-off screening is an occasion for the whole family. With an introduction from one of UK’s best loved Cbeebies presenter Andy Day.

Paul King, director of Paddington has cited Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin as being huge influences on Paddington’s character and transition to the big screen and at Slapstick we can only applaud that.

Upon release the film received showers of praise, living up to the reputation of the classic kids story. It stays true to the original, and beautifully depicts the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear who travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone in the middle of Paddington station, he begins to worry that the city life is not all he had imagined. But his luck changes when he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven. Paddington then starts to rather enjoy life in London, that is until a museum taxidermist gets sight of him…

We will also be handing out a special complimentary Paddington Pack for every young person, which includes a Marmalade sandwich – of course! This is fun packed family entertainment not to be missed.

Andy Day
PDF file icon
Paddington: An Ode to Slapstick
Paddington An Ode to Slapstick

Arthur Smith: Laughs, Stories, a Song and a Poem

Arthur Smith:

Laughs, Stories, a Song and a Poem

Date: Sunday 30 January 2022
Time: 5.30pm
Venue: St George’s Bristol
Map: St Georges Bristol
Price: £10.00 – £20.00, plus booking fee

Settle down for a laughter-filled evening of off-the-wall humour with comedian, writer and broadcaster ARTHUR SMITH.

Smith is 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 R4’s LOOSE ENDS.

Expect sublime playfulness crammed with jokes, anecdotes, short stories, poems and songs, and a generous helping of sass.

Arthur Smith Big Comedy Bash

Armando Iannucci: A Life in Satire

Armando Iannucci:

A Life in Satire

Date: Sunday 30 January 2022
Time: 2.30pm
Venue: St George’s Bristol
Map: St Georges Bristol
Price: £20, £18, £15, £10

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 R4’s THE INFINITE MONKEY CAGE and the author of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING INTERESTED)

armando iannucci featured at slapstick festival Bristol

Richard Herring’s The Sunday Chat

Richard Herring: The Sunday Chat

With Jon Culshaw

Date: Sun 30th January 2022
Time: 12.00pm
Venue: St George’s Bristol
Map: St Georges Bristol
Price: £10.00 – £20.00, plus booking fee

Join comedian and writer Richard Herring as he turns the interviewing skills honed on his award-winning podcast to quiz the latest in a line-up of celebrity guests.

His special Slapstick Festival guest is the hilarious award-winning comedian, actor and impressionist Jon Culshaw.

Jon is best know for being a star of The Impressions Show and Dead Ringers along with lending his many voices to shows such as Spitting Image and ITV sketch show Newzoids.

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 with Jon to discuss his life and career.