Eddie Izzard leads the fun at St Albans’ Laughs in the Parks
YOU know you’re in for an interesting evening when a flock of geese gets applauded, a heckler gets as big a laugh as one of the UK’s best-loved comedians just for falling off a chair and you suddenly experience an urge to travel to Ireland.
Visitors to Verulamium Park in St Albans might have been startled to hear roars of laughter in between the quacks of resident ducks at the weekend as top UK comedians Eddie Izzard and Ross Noble and Irish “superstar comic” Tommy Tiernan entertained at Laughs in the Park from last Friday to Sunday.
Following a successful three-night open air comedy festival last year, Eddie and promoter Mick Perrin of Just For Laughs returned to Verulamium, determined to make this second event bigger and better than before.
And the event certainly delivered.
Pre-show entertainment included a gripping aerobatic display by The Blades, whose hair-raising aerial manoeuvres in close formation left me with heart palpitations.
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Then it was straight in to the funny stuff. Ross Noble and Eddie Izzard warmed up the audience with impromptu banter, turning the most banal of objects – shrubbery on the stage – into props for gags.
Attention then turned to a flock of geese flying over the stage in perfect symmetry, with their unplanned appearance announced by a cacophony of loud honks.
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The audience, well-primed, immediately broke into loud applause, much to the amusement of Eddie and Ross.
Hecklers added to the atmosphere. We had the dubious luck of having one seated right in front of us and another beside me.
The bloke in front obviously didn’t pay attention to the Laughs in the Park programme which features an interview with Ross Noble.
In it, he is asked, “do you encourage wannabe hecklers?” To which he replied: “It’s a bit pointless heckling in that sort of environment because it’s outdoors.
“Unless they walk to the front of the stage and cup their hand, I won’t hear them. The whole place could be heckling and I wouldn’t know.”
Well, he certainly knew about this gentleman who, in his effort to be heard, promptly fell off his chair, causing much mirth all round.
When a beer-swilling second heckler started yelling with all his might inarticulately next to me, I fully sympathised with Ross’s sentiments.
The next performer was Tommy Tiernan, extremely well known in Ireland, and whose wife sings with The Chieftains.
Strutting about the stage in a dapper three-piece suit, nothing was sacred for Tommy who was extremely funny as he dissected various aspects of marriage and family life.
He said it was important for him to start doing comedy shows in England again after an absence of about 10 years.
According to the programme, Tommy did apparently wonder if he should wear a pair of swimming trunks in case it bucketed down.
An umbrella would have been more useful as it did indeed rain. But it did nothing to dampen the audience’s spirit while listening to the famous Eddie Izzard. Despite the weather, we could happily have enjoyed Eddie’s jokes all night as he was such a laugh.
The night ended with a bang, literally, as fireworks exploded around the stage – an “Eddie touch” that was the perfect finale to a perfect comedy show.
I’m crossing my fingers for a return visit from Eddie and company to St Albans next year.