For the past few months, Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists have been working hard on the ‘Finding Our Funny Roots’ project (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund) for Creative Black Country. As part of it, we’re creating a one-hour show for the ‘Funny Things’ comedy festival which takes place in Wolverhampton at the end of October, and over the summer we’ve been incredibly busy pulling together the various strands which will go to make up the show.
Our aim is to give the audience a sense of Black Country comedy from 1950 to the year 2000. To this end, Creative Black Country’s willing band of wonderful volunteers have been doing oral history interviews with folk across the region to uncover the comedy gold stored away in their collective memories, we’ve also been out and about in the Black Country chatting to folk, and we’re working closely with Josiane Boutonnet and Paul McDonald – lecturers at Wolverhampton University – whose academic understanding of the nature of comedy has been absolutely fascinating.
In August we held a preview show with the lovely people from Wolverhampton Friendship Centre 050 group. We had a performance by a Black Country comedian, imparted some interesting nuggets of facts about our region’s comedy, told jokes, shared memories, held a quiz, and – most importantly – had a lot of laughs. All the elements from that event will be in the Finding Our Funny Roots show at the Arena Theatre on Saturday 26th October (tickets for that are available here).
Our biggest problem …AARRGGHHHH!!!… has been choosing what to put in and what to leave out of the show. AARRGGHHHH!!!! For example, did you know there were Black Country nights that happened in Australia and Canada? No, nor us. Did you know that chapel services in the Black Country were sometimes comedy heavy? Nope, neither did we, but Black Country historian Ned Williams put us straight about that. Most crucially, do you know where the Black Country actually is? No? Well, it doesn’t look like anyone else does either.
Oh, and did we mention that we only have one hour to fit all this in – and give a sense of the awesomeness of our region – while making sure our audience is entertained? No pressure!
Next week, we begin rehearsing the show. Dave (our tech genius) has been working his magic, and Steve and Emma have drafted and re-drafted the script ready for the first read through and blocking in just over a week’s time, when we will be joined by our special guest artists who’ll help knock the show into shape.
By the time the curtain raises on the 26th, we hope we’ll be ready to amaze you with facts, tickle your funny bones, and fill you with pride for the wonder which is the Black Country. To whet your appetite, we’ll be posting some of our out-takes on social media. Follow @pandemonialists and @CreativeBCuk and keep your eyes peeled!
See you on the 26th. Arena Theatre. 5pm.