Arthur Smith v’s Hebden Bridge Arts Festival


“You need chaos to give birth to a dancing star.”
Nietsche (& Arthur Smith)
Arthur Smith: At Your Service
Hebden Bridge Arts Festival
July 1, 2016.
What a fantastic venue the Picture House in Hebden Bridge is, freshly and beautifully refurbished after the devastating floods of last year. The very essence of the word plush. Deep burgundy and gold flake and a sense of history and place. Normally a fantastic cinema venue but for Friday night it played host to the stand-up legend and tenacious untortured artist that is, Arthur Smith.
Bringing the very best of Alternative Comedy to the smartest of audience is the sole goal of Funny Looking Presents… And you can’t get more legendary under this banner then Arthur.
One quick glimpse of his history can tell you that the term legendary can sometimes be applied too lightly and too quickly. It is wholly appropriate in this case.
Helping to promote this gig for what seems to be a fantastic Festival; in one of the most beautiful towns north of Manchester; has been a treat here in Funny Looking Towers.
You know it’s going to be a great gig when the Director of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival themselves takes great care to ensure that gently suggested rider items might favour cheese and chocolate (Arthur is famously diabetic – I say famously as he does write a column in diabetics monthly or something) to assuage any possible hypo, is lovingly placed on the one dressing room open since the post flood refurbishment.
The gig was a joy and the chaos that follows this long-standing Lord of Misrule was evident throughout.
Arthur has long been a champion and supporter of new acts and Manchester-based comedian Kate McCabe 174_HBAF2016_July1_craigshawphotofully realised her opening spot for the gig. Fantastic that the audience  warmed to her take on British ways and errors, (it’s a post BREXIT apocalypse guys we need to try and laugh through our tears) and she left the stage triumphantly. Thankfully Kate was already on her way to the next gig so she missed the gentle savaging of the entire American way that followed her set. For one of the architects and champions of the more politically correct approach comedy in the early 80s, (and I’m a big fan of that by the way and if you’re not and you think it out dated then get some cleverer material) showed our American cousins some of the errors of their ways…
Now I’m not saying the audience were hostile, far from it in fact for IMG_121099% of the time. Some of the audience made requests for old Smith routines, such was their level of fandom. But let’s just say there was an edge of menace when Arthur somewhat failed the pronunciation of Todmorden and Mytholmryod. At one point I saw pitchforks twitching under the seats…
Now, I’m not saying the next two items are connected but there was only one presenter that BBC Radio Four turned too when they needed a narrator for a documentary on the life and history of tramps. That was of course Arthur Smith. Prior to the gig Arthur, a keen rambler made contact and swapped gags with a local character. Two free tickets were offered in payment for said jokes and that started the rollercoaster of directors commentary offered by the two relaxed audience members. The gentlemans +1 enthusiastically tried to follow Mr Smith’s on stage naked cameo artiste. All I shall say that as I stood preventing this relaxed young woman from getting backstage, she clearly had a robust grasp of  English invective vocabulary. The role of a promotor is a varied one.

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So there we have it Funny Looking Presents… takes itself out of Liverpool starting what is hopefully a continuing journey promoting the very best comedy to the most discerning of audience. And the audience were dreamy. Lots of laughs. Lots of love and frankly an over enthusiastic commitment to the singing of highly unique version of God save the Queen.
Viva La republic.
Viva Hebden Bridge.
Thank you the Festival Director, Helen Meller for hosting us.
The technical team Ben & Graham and the whole bloody gang at the Picture House.
Funny Looking Presents… would also like to thank Marissa Burgess, Kate McCabe, Lance +1 and of course the simply unique Mr Arthur Smith.
Building on a history of Podcasts, Season One of Funny Looking Presents… in Liverpool and towards the Funny Looking Fringe at the Liverpool Comedy Festival.
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