New Worthing Theatres manager Amanda O’Reilly is pledging to make the town’s venues a hot-bed for emerging talent.
And she’s kicking off with comedy, launching a series of Comedy Network nights in Worthing.
“Worthing hasn’t had a reputation for comedy, maybe because it hasn’t been programmed much, maybe because Brighton does an awful lot of it,” Amanda said. “But I feel that it is something that we really should have on the programme.”
It is all part of taking a fresh look at what the Worthing Theatres venues – the Connaught, the Pavilion and the Assembly Hall – all have to offer in general.
“I am very, very keen that we should be getting emerging talent it across all the genres. I think it gives a freshness and a new life to all the programming. It is very easy for things to become a bit stale, and I think perhaps elements of the programme in Worthing did actually become a bit stale. I am very keen that our audiences should take a journey with us to see new theatre, to see new up-and-coming musicians…
“I am wanting a new start with a new freshness throughout the programme. And our first attempt at that is with comedy.”
Worthing has had a few comedians in the past, but big-name comedians. Amanda is keen to bring in the kinds of comedians who in a couple of years’ time will be the next Jimmy Carr “rather than someone you have seen for the past six years running”; the kind of people you will be pleased to say that you first saw in an intimate setting in Worthing.
The point is also to take a chance on something a bit different.
As Amanda says, with some of the newcomers, you may well come away your sides aching with laughter; with others, your response might be a more moderate “Well, yes, that was funny.”
But the point is that you will have tried something new.
Star of BBC Radio 1, Tom Deacon, leads Worthing’s first Comedy Network night in the Ritz Studio on March 15.
Before hosting his Radio 1 show which he began in 2010, Tom won the Chortle Student Comedy Award, appeared on Dave’s One Night Stand and also on The Rob Brydon Show on BBC 2. He returned to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with his second solo stand-up show Can I be Honest? in 2011.
Tom is joined by award-winning comedian Jarlath Regan, the writer and star of hit Irish show The Panel. He has gained a reputation for his uplifting and inventivel-funny stand-up and has enjoyed sell-out runs at the Fringe since 2007 where he also showcased his sixth solo show, The Audacity of Hope and the Inspirational Stupidity of Perseverance during the summer.
The third comedian taking to the newly-reinstated stage in the intimate Ritz Studio is winner of the 2010 Chortle Student Comedian of the Year Award, the Comedy Central Live Funniest Student Award 2011 and the 2012 president of Cambridge Footlights, Phil Wang.
“He has supported acts such as Greg Davies, Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal as well as Chris Addison and is famed for his dry, deadpan charm and occasional outburst of ukulele,” Amanda said.
The full Comedy Network season is: Tom Deacon, Phil Wang and Jarlath Regan, Friday, March 15, 8pm; Shazia Mirza – Cuckooland, Friday, April 26, 8pm; Lucy Porter – People Person, Saturday, May 18, 8pm; Patrick Monahan – Shooting From the Lip, Friday, April 26, 8pm; all at Ritz Studio, Union Place, Worthing. Also: John Shuttleworth, Connaught Theatre, Worthing, Saturday April 27, 7.30pm.