A festival of laughter

The Flavel is one of the venues to host this years Dartmouth Comedy Festival

The Flavel is one of the venues to host this years Dartmouth Comedy Festival - Credit: Archant

Dartmouth will be filled with amusement as the annual Dartmouth Comedy Festival returns. ELLIS TAYLOR talks to local poet Matt Harvey about what audiences can expect

Lucy Porter

Lucy Porter - Credit: Archant

Laughter and smiles will engulf Dartmouth this March as the Dartmouth Comedy Festival returns for its eighth year. Held at the Flavel Arts Centre as well as various other venues, the festival has secured a line up which boasts some of the best of British comedy. The festival runs from 4-8 March and acts such as Matt Harvey, Lucy Porter, Luke Kempner and Sean Hughes will be performing. The festival promises a selection of stand up, variety, kids’ shows and – thanks to Sean Hughes - penguins.

Local poet Matt Harvey will be performing on the first night

Local poet Matt Harvey will be performing on the first night - Credit: Archant

Poet and enemy of all that’s difficult and upsetting, Matt Harvey, will be travelling from Totnes to perform at the comedy festival. The show will be held at Café Alf Rescos and is perfect for those who like a meal thrown in with their comedy.

Matt, who will be performing on the first night of the festival, says: “I really enjoy it. I’m basically a poet, I get called a stand-up poet or a comedy poet, but most of my material is poetry. I do a lot of literature festivals and conferences and village halls, but I don’t do a lot of out and out comedy festivals. It’s just really nice for me to be part of it.”

“I have an ongoing rollover show that changes month by month, year on year, but is essentially just me doing my thing. It’s me getting up doing poems and stories and, because I know it works well at Alf’s, I will get the audience to do some interactive collaborative stuff, which doesn’t sound very promising, but it works.”

It is not uncommon for Devon to inspire poetry; the rolling landscapes and beautiful scenery have contributed to the works of many poets over the years. But for Matt, the people of Devon are an inspiration for comedic poetry.

“I have to admit that coming from Totnes I do write stuff about the alternative side of life in Totnes,” explains Matt. “The hardy perennial catastrophes of human relationships inspire a lot of it, as do non-catastrophes and the poignant foibles of people.”

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The strong presence of reality and everyday life within Matt’s work gives the audience a new, and funny, perspective on their daily lives.

“My work is about life. A lot of it is about sprinkling fairy dust on the humdrum.

“Some of the poems reflect my own battle with slugs at my allotment, some of them reflect having kids, and some of them reflect avidly reading the lonely hearts ads over many many years. Some reflect just sitting for too long, thinking too much about things better left to deeper thinkers and in the end coming up with some daft rhyme.”

As well as sharp wit and rhymes, Matt promises a lively and active performance. “It’s a very diverse kind of show. There is lots of wordplay, lots of fast rhythm and rhymes, and lots of changes in pace.

“If people are lucky there is one bit where I shout at them - it’s incredibly exciting. Everyone gets an adrenaline rush. Some people have reported being slightly afraid in the shouty bit because it is so out of character: people think I’ve lost it.”

It seems that a loud festival is expected this year, not only from Matt’s shouting, but also audiences laughing at the vast diversity of acts. However the penguins remain a mystery for now.

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