Welcome to Slapstick 2018
To an increasingly crazy world, comedy brings solace and sanity and Bristol’s SLAPSTICK now stands as Europe’s biggest and best festival of comedy, bringing together classic screen clowning with today’s fnest living laughter-makers from British stage and television. This year is the 14th and our biggest edition yet.
This edition of Slapstick festival is dedicated to our dear friend Tony White (1937-2017). His devotion, enthusiasm and contribution to Slapstick was always a highlight each year for us and he will be sorely missed by us all.
Comedy is timeless and this year’s SLAPSTICK celebrates the centenary of Buster Keaton’s debut in pictures: a hundred years later he stands with Chaplin – an icon, more funny and relevant than ever. More than half a century ago British television saw an explosion of comedy genius – from Monty Python to Dad’s Army, from Peter Sellers to Eric & Ernie – that still leaves its indelible mark on the best new laughter-makers today. At SLAPSTICK, today’s comedy creators merrily and passionately confront their comic ancestry for new audiences.
Several events – notably our opening night screening of SPITE MARRIAGE – recall the making and mastery of Buster Keaton. Oscar-winning historian, restorer and flm-maker Kevin Brownlow presents some Keaton surprises, while historian David Robinson reveals the vaudeville world that produced the young Keaton. Bristol will also have an early opportunity to see James Dangerfeld’s “one-man musical”, When You Fall Down, in tribute to Keaton’s life and work. A premiere programme of flms rediscovered after disappearing for more than a century – most from the collection of Anthony Saffrey, who will be present for the event – shows the evolution of the comic star: from Andre Deed and Max Linder to lesser-known geniuses like Marcel Perez and Karl Valentin. In addition Chris Serle introduces us to the unjustly long-forgotten Austrian clowns, Cocl and Seff.
Stand-up comedian, actress and writer Lucy Porter celebrates the great female comics of the screen, Betty Balfour and Constance Talmadge (Buster Keaton’s sister-in-law!) and the unparalleled Jo Brand chooses her top funny moments whilst comedian Lee Mack celebrates Laurel & Hardy in a special event on Saturday at Colston Hall.
A special feature of this year’s SLAPSTICK is the role that music has played in comedy. A celebratory late-night screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with special guest Jason Donovan. The musical theme continues with a series of programmes fronted by the patron saint of SLAPSTICK, Barry Cryer, whose unparalleled contribution to British comedy writing includes The Two Ronnies. Barry’s frequent partner in comedy crime, Ronnie Golden appears in a solo show and veteran Goodie and wildlife champion Bill Oddie will reveal the secrets of song writing for The Goodies. There is a rare reunion of the mock heavy-metal band “Bad News,” from The Comic Strip Presents, with Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer in an onstage discussion. “Raw Sex”, the comedy musical double act with Rowland Rivron and Simon Grint, also features as Rowland discusses their rise from French & Saunders house band to cult comedy legends today.
Slapstick is proud, as ever, to present world class live music accompaniments for its projected silent film screenings from solo piano improvisations to full orchestral scores and this year is no exception. At our gala, Charles Chaplin’s A Dog’s Life (1918) is being accompanied by the 16-piece Bristol Ensemble performing with Chaplin’s own score conducted by Slapstick’s Musical Director, maestro Günter A. Buchwald. The unstoppable four-piece ensemble European Silent Screen Virtuosi (ESSV) return with special guest musicians including Oscar©-winner Richard Williams on cornet and Roger Huckle (Bristol Ensemble) to accompany Keaton’s Sherlock Jr They will also provide accompaniment for Battle of the Century (1927) on Saturday night and Spite Marriage (1929) on Thursday evening.
In addition multi-instrumentalist Stephen Horne will be accompanying classic Keaton shorts at Bristol Old Vic on Saturday afternoon and we are delighted to welcome back the world’s foremost silent film harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry who’ll be accompanying short comedies for us on solo harp on Saturday. Pianist and composer Daan van den Hurk returns to Slapstick Festival on piano and other solo performers include John Sweeney and Günter A. Buchwald.[
A brand new event for which we anticipate a big future is “Young Slapstick Saturday ” at Colston Hall which combines screenings of classic comedy short flms with a comedy workshop for 8-11 year olds and Punch-and-Judy shows in between. Slapstick offers fun and laughter for all the family and all the South West. There could be no better way to start the year 2018!
There could be no better way to start the year 2018!