Comedy Night, Friday 10th May 2019
The final weekend of the Dorchester Festival kicked off with a packed tent in the mood for an evening of laughs. There was a warm and friendly atmosphere, and whilst I found the banquet seating odd to watch a stand-up comedy set, it added a social element with my partner and I able to converse with those next to us. Dorchester Festival not only raises money, it also brings its village together, which makes it doubly good.
The evening was expertly MC’d by Taylor Glenn. She was a warm and personable host, gamely teasing audience members, causing laughs on several topics, and managing to find the funniest way to eat some brie. She held the evening together, teeing up each comedian well. Each of the acts brought a different style to their set, which made them an interesting group to watch in a row. First up we had Paul F Taylor, who relied heavily on word play and audience interaction.
Chortles turned to guffaws with the next act, Michael Fabbri. Running at a terrific pace, bouncing from topic to topic, Fabbri was consistently funny, building to moments when the audience were in tears of laughter. Of the evening’s comedians he was the one who most successfully tapped into what the audience were looking for, and his story of his young daughter in the play park was hilarious.
The night was capped by Angela Barnes, a ball of furious energy. Deeply topical and intelligent, for some in the room her set was perfect. For others it was noticeably not and Barnes expertly shut down a heckle (in response to, what else, Barnes turning towards Brexit). Yet this seemed to pull the comedian down a tangent, which was less funny and more brutally honest, one that explored the words we used and the gender disparity that exists here. There is a brilliance to what Barnes does, but it was probably not the right fit for the evening. The tension that crackled in the tent during her set was fascinating and I’d gladly watch Barnes in another setting. A skilled comedian certainly, but maybe not what the
After the spicy kick of Barnes’ set, Glenn wrapped up the night and sent us on our way. It proved a fun evening, even if it had more tension than I had expected, proving a fascinating case study in judging your audience. All of the comedians were strong, talented performers but it was really Glenn and Fabbri who grasped what we were looking for. Such is the magic of exceptional stand-up comedy.