Can Comedy cut it at Rockness?
Billy Kirkwood - Kai Humphries - The Wee Man
added: 16 Jun 2012
interviewed by: Susan Ford
The face of the modern day music festival is on the move, showcasing a new type of rock ‘n’ roll in the sun. The biggest names in music will always persuade people to buy the tickets, but now the most famous faces in comedy are completing the line-up. As Tim Minchin and Daniel Sloss perform at this year’s Rockness
festival, I explore the link between comedy and festivals in creating this summer’s biggest occasions.
Interviewing comedians was always going to be a risky research strategy, what with all their jokes, but I’ve enlisted the help of Billy Kirkwood
, Kai Humphries
and The Wee Man
(all appeared at Rockness 2012) to help me unravel why comedy is so popular, or not so, at music festivals.
A gig’s a gig right? Be it singing, dancing or telling jokes, performing at a festival as big as Rockness is bound to be a highlight in your career. Apart from going to see other bands or indulging in overpriced hamburgers, the appeal of Rockness seems to be its status, as The Wee Man puts it “having experienced the annual stabathon of T in the Park and unshaven armpit hippy commune of Wickerman, I’m hoping for a happy middle ground”. For Billy Kirkwood, who is MC and host for the second year at Rockness, there is a good reason to return to the festival “The comedy tent in general is a great chance to perform without inhibitions but as well as that there is music, great comedy, great company and messing about something fierce”.
As Rockness embraced its funny side this year with some massive names in comedy, we unfold a few of the similarities between music and jokes, starting with a very sound point from Kai Humphries: “The groupies!! When you’ve told jokes about your Granddad being a pervert, bitches throw themselves at you like you’re Caleb Followhill after belting out Sex on Fire”. Billy Kirkwood gives his perspective too: “ Both comedy and music feed from the crowd and play on their emotions and feelings; it’s an instant response or connection between a performer and an audience that doesn’t really exist in any other medium – all comedians want to be Rock Stars and all musicians want to be comics… or wrestlers”. But no one sums up the biggest connection quite as well as the Wee Man himself as he drops his opinion into the mix “Sexually Transmitted Diseases.”
So the similarities are there, and the popularity of comedy at a music festival seems undoubted, but surely the boundaries for comedians performing at a predominantly music festival are there too? Kai Humphries states “punters will be drunk so avoiding long winded jokes that require an attention span might be a good idea. The crowd have other options than sitting listening to you, if you’re shit they’ll move on”. Billy Kirkwood boldly lets no boundaries hold him back “I believe any comic on any given day can have a good or bad gig, but my advice is leave the good behaviour at home if you are playing a festival”. For The Wee Man’s response, see above.
Despite the big music headliners at Rockness this year – Biffy Cylro, Mumford and Sons and Deadmau5, some of the biggest highlights at the festival took place in the comedy tent, so what gives comedians the upper hand? The Wee Man gives one of his more sensible answers: “If a joke doesn’t go down well, you can move on to the next one, while if a song isn’t going well you’ve still got to carry on for another couple of minutes, unless you are Keith Moon and you are expected to pass out halfway through”. Kai Humphries adds “it adds variety to their program, the fact it’s a little something different will captivate people. Laughing is easy when you’re already having an awesome time”.
Rockness’s Howards End comedy tent showcased the best new local and international acts, providing many different styles and catering for all. As the big names at this year’s festival Tim Minchin and Daniel Sloss spill over to the Golden Voice Big Top, I ask the question ‘is there space for and all-comedy line-up summer festival in a field?’ Only Billy Kirkwood is on my side: “oh god yes, that’s an awesome idea…where do I sign? Just as long as every different style and nationality is represented, and everyone has to camp over – no divas!” For Kai Humphries though I’ve missed the mark “outdoor comedy seems very unnatural, whatever the weather I think it needs to be in a tent. I can’t explain the science behind it, but that’s the proven formula”. I think I’ve almost insulted The Wee Man with the idea: “No. That would be shite”.
For all comedy reviews including Billy Kirkwood, Kai Humphries and The Wee Man, as well as a roundup of the whole weekend at Rockness, stay tuned to Music-News.com
Rockness is Scotland’s best festival for comedy, but if you’re not able to make it this far North, here are five more great comedy line ups:Latitude
: Latitude is the big one, it’s the Isle of Wight of the comedy bills, with Jack Dee, Tim Minichin, Robin Ince, Al Murray, Reginald D. Hunter, Rich Hall and Josh Widdicombe to choose from.Hop Farm
: This boutique festival in Kent brings comedians Russell Kane, Sarah Pascoe and Stephen K. Amos to the comedy tent.Blissfields
: This one’s for comedy fans to take a risk on. With the UKs next big comedians Andrew O’Neill, Danny Sutcliffe and Ruth E. Cockburn, Blissfields is showcasing a new generation of panel show guests.Green Man
: Wale’s independent music festival invites Holly Walsh, Zoe Lyons and Mark Olver to the Valleys ,bring the passion for unique and original talent to their comedy line up.Lounge on the Farm
: Literally the most relaxed, kick-backed festival out there. Comedy comes from Andi Osho,, Andrew Maxwell, Phil Kay, Terry Alderton and Robin Ince.
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