Cider, Chorizo and Chuckles at Bristol Comedy Garden

Good food and comedy in equal measure…

Earlier this month I attended one of the best comedy gigs I’ve ever been to, and it wasn’t just the jokes that made it so enjoyable.

Sponsored by Magners Irish Cider, who I’m told are now ‘getting into comedy’, this year’s Bristol Comedy Garden featured some fantastic performers, including Craig Campbell, Stephen K. Amos, and Terry Alderton, to name just a few. With plenty of beverages available at the bar, and an impressive selection of food courtesy of BEATS — Bristol’s award-winning street food collective — this was a comedic and culinary success in equal measure.

The Bath Pig Chilli Cheese Dog

I arrive with my workmates on Thursday evening after a busy day at the office, and I’m just as excited at the prospect of eating and drinking as I am about the forthcoming entertainment. We make a unanimous beeline for the bar and each devour a long-awaited pint of cider before making a speedy, and by now slightly tipsy, dash for the food stalls. On offer is everything from freshly baked wood-fired pizza and slow-cooked duck burgers, to Indian curry and home-baked pastries and cakes. After an initial period of indecision resulting in a subsequent period of frantic queue hopping, I find myself suddenly drawn to The Bath Pig, and unable to resist the temptation of one their chilli-cheese and chorizo hot dogs. Given that I have recently pledged to eliminate as much refined sugar from my diet as possible, a juicy cured sausage served in a fluffy white roll with a generous slathering of sweet-chilli sauce is a very welcome indulgence indeed. Unable to restrain myself after several days of tortuous sugar deprivation, I gobble my delicious meaty treat with some speed, which results in most of the sweet and sticky sauce ending up smeared across my face and leggings.

Sugar craving suitably satisfied (and sauce cleaned up as much as possible), I join my workmates in the Big Top and settle down to enjoy the show. First on stage is compère John Robins, a local Bristolian whose quick-witted banter with the audience sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Following Robins’ cheery introduction is Sara Pascoe, my favourite comedienne and the unrivalled queen of light-hearted socio-feminist critique. Of all the acts lined-up for the evening it is Sara’s that I am most looking forward to, and her performance certainly doesn’t disappoint. Her dumb-blonde stage persona coupled with a series of darkly-comic autobiographical insights has the audience laughing from start to finish. Next is cocky South-Londoner and rising star Rob Beckett, who uses his family and working-class upbringing as a means of making fun of social stereotypes. I’m not at all familiar with Beckett, but his act is definitely a highlight.

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The legendary Rich Hall is last to the stage, and his contribution is well worth the wait. Razor-sharp interactions with the audience inevitably lead to bouts of hilarious musical improvisation, interspersed with sardonic social commentary on subjects ranging from the recent horse meat scandal, to American airport security checks. A song written from the perspective of a hyper-active border collie is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, and ends Hall’s performance on a high.

Based on the excellent quality of both the comedy and the food, both of which far exceeded my initial expectations, I would highly recommend Bristol Comedy Garden and will almost certainly be attending next year’s event.

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