The second ever Croydon Comedy Festival kicks off on 2 June, and will see more than 50 acts grace stages across the town before it closes in late July. But what’s it all about?
We caught up with organiser, Tim Eveleigh, to find out more about one of the newest comedy festivals on the circuit.
Why did you start the Croydon Comedy Festival? Isn’t there enough comedy in and around London already?
Well, I started the festival by accident. I was booking some comedy shows that would be taking place on a stage in the garden of a friend’s pub and I couldn’t think of a better name than “Croydon Comedy Festival”.
Once I’d booked up those shows I thought it would be best to encourage other people to join in, so that I didn’t look a bit silly running a festival on my own.
As for your second question, I’ll ask one in return: can there be too much comedy in Greater London?
You seem very proud of Croydon – but it’s often the butt of jokes. What’s so great about it?
I’ve lived in Croydon for most of my life (with a hiatus in Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and I find it very laid back and friendly.
Although most of the images you see are of central Croydon’s “Manhattan skyline” there are lots of green spaces – and you can walk to the south coast from central Croydon without walking on any roads.
There’s always been lots of art and culture (particularly music) going on in Croydon and there’s a big effort to promote this within the borough at the moment.
Okay, so tell us something we don’t know about Croydon.
Speaking as the King of the Pedants (a self-proclaimed honour, I admit), I’d like to point out that you’ll need to tell me everything everyone currently knows about Croydon before I can answer this question.
However, the standard answer is that you can get to Croydon on the train from London in 15 minutes (it’s closer than you think, North Londoners) and is the largest London Borough by population.
You’ve got 51 shows this year – that’s some going. How do you get acts on board?
For the shows that I’ve booked myself (at The Gold Coast and Spreadeagle Theatre), I go to comedy shows, approach people that I think are great and ask them to come to Croydon. Some say yes, some say no.
Also, Paul Howland from Glorious Management has been as helpful as it is possible to be, particularly to someone like me who had not organised any comedy events before last summer.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in getting a comedy festival up and running?
The most important thing has been to avoid it becoming a challenge, so I go to comedy shows that I’d like to go to anyway, only deal with people who are helpful and encouraging, and try to be helpful and encouraging to venues, promoters and performers that would like to be involved.
Who’s your favourite act at the festival this year?
It has to be Kevin Day. I used to watch Crystal Palace from the Holmesdale End at Selhurst Park standing behind Kevin and his mates in the 1980s, and he was as funny then as he is now.
Who would be your dream headliner (and have you approached them?)
Eddie Izzard. I shook his hand at Victoria Station about a month ago. He was chatting to someone else and I didn’t want to interrupt and ask him about coming to the festival.
Mind you, there’s no rush! One day…
What’s next for the Croydon Comedy Festival? Will it be back next year?
Last year I wilfully avoided making any decisions about this years’ festival until last years’ festival had finished, but despite trying to do that again I think we’ll be back in 2017.
We have plans to become more diverse, which I’ve been keen to do. This year we have venues away from the town centre and we’ve added some all-age events, something that we didn’t cater for last year.
We also have some exciting ideas involving trams and there will be a podcast about the festival starting in the next few weeks.
Is it a labour of love, or could this become a bit of a cash cow?
It’s definitely a labour of love! It would be lovely to break even so that there aren’t any worries about finances. If anyone would like to help with that, please do get in touch – and/or buy a ticket.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you because of the festival?
I think the funniest thing has been to do with my personal adjustment between running music events (which I have been doing for some time) and comedy events.
I’m used to everyone being around for a sound check and then discussing how we’re going to run the show together. I was quite panicky for the first few comedy events, standing on stage telling the audience who’d be performing when the performers had not arrived at the venue yet. I’m getting used to it now!
The Croydon Comedy Festival website has a full list of events, and ticket purchasing links. Acts this year include Lucy Porter, Matt Green, Matthew Crosby, Tony Law, Nish Kumar, Holy Burn, Lou Sanders, Danielle Ward and Phil Nicholl.