It’s time to laugh again at some of the North East’s forgotten comedians of the past
A new podcast Jesters: Forgotten Stories of North East Comedy co-produced by the North East Comedy Cooperative Felt Nowt and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is throwing a fun and frivolous evening at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle this month.
Between 6 and 9 p.m. on Friday, April 22, comedians Gavin Webster, Lee Kyle and John Gibson will perform alongside other guests in the Great Hall where audiences can expect a mix of stand-up comedy, sketches and songs. Performers will also incorporate the stories explored in the four-episode podcast into their acts, sharing never-before-seen snippets of the North East’s comedic heritage.
The evening will conclude with a Q&A panel, delving into the North East’s comedy heritage. Tickets cost £4 plus booking fee and can be purchased here via the Discovery Museum website.
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Jesters: Forgotten Stories of North East Comedy will be available on TWAM’s Must-See Stories digital platform here, and on all other podcast platforms, starting April 22. The stories explored in ‘Jesters’ are Mark Sheridan (1864 -1918) Ian Milne (1922-1949), Leonard Barras (1922-2008) and the elusive Wavis O’Shave of South Shields.
Each episode is featured by stalwarts of the North East comedy scene – with Gavin Webster, Si Beckwith, Lee Kyle and John Gibson appearing in each.
Mark Sheridan was a music-hall star from the docklands of Hendon, Sunderland, who traveled the world as an actor, singer and comedian in the late Victorian era; Leonard Barrass was an author, poet, columnist and playwright who spent his working life as a clerk in Swan Hunters in Newcastle and whose BBC 2 comedy starred Roy Kinnear; Ian Milne, originally a cartoonist at South Shields, had the makings of a very promising career but tragically died aged 26 from illness; the enigmatic Wavis O’Shave was a surreal comic that appeared on Channel 4’s The Tube, a cult channel, made in Newcastle in the 1980s, and whose albums were favored by legendary DJ John Peel.
Felt Nowt director and stand-up comedian Si Beckwith said, “We’re thrilled to be working with TWAM and we’re thrilled to see comedy working with such great institutions as this. Part of our philosophy is to preserve the rich comedic heritage of the North East has and what better than to shine a light on some stories that aren’t championed to the level they should be.Through the podcast and live show we can shout out such amazing people, and that’s just a taste of so many great stories that we’ll be looking to bring to light more in the future.
TWAM Digital Producer Sarah Younas said: “It’s fantastic to be working with Felt Nowt to explore the lesser-known stories of a range of comedians and performers from across the North East, who have inspired the comedic scene of ‘ today. We hope that many people will come and enjoy the show and download the podcast.
Felt Nowt is a unique collaboration between over 60 Northeast or Northeast performing comics, and is the first organization of its kind. The only known comedy company run by comedians for comedy fans, Felt Nowt is dedicated to bringing the best quality stand-up comedy to venues across the North East and Cumbria. A Community Benefit Corporation (CIC), Felt Nowt channels all proceeds into supporting community outreach and events that benefit their local and regional communities.
The most recent production of Felt Nowt took place at Newcastle’s Tyne Theater in early March, with over 800 people attending a comedy night hosted by comedians like Sammy Dobson to raise almost £7,300 for Rape Crisis Tyneside & Northumberland.
Must-See Stories is TWAM’s online editorial platform that tells compelling stories inspired by the collections and communities of the region’s museums, galleries and archives, through film, audio and writing .
Other stories include Heavier! Faster! Stronger! a six-part audio documentary series, telling the story of Tyneside’s Heavy Metal scene; Weird Walks, a deep dive into the dark heart of Newcastle; Re-Imagining Pride, a series of six commissions from LGBTQIA+ artists, examining what P/pride means to them through film, audio, poetry, illustration and zines; Exhibitions Unpacked, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming exhibitions and much more in production.
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