Comedy you can take your baby to - Chichester

Bring Your Own Baby Comedy makes its very first appearance in Chichester with a visit to the Minerva Bar at Chichester Festival Theatre on Monday, February 26 at midday.
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It will feature Matt Stellingwerf (winner of the NZ Comedy Guild Award) and Sarah Iles and will be hosted by BYOB's own Carly Smallman.

Carly explains: “We are now in our eighth year. I started it off with a friend of mine who had a baby. And we're both comedians. She's not part of it anymore but she helped set it up and she wanted to do something in the daytime rather than just working in the evening as a comedian. And I had just gone through a very big break-up and I had to live on my own for the first time in a while. I was feeling a bit miserable at home and then just going out in the evening to work. So we came up with this idea together. We did our first show in the function room of our local pub in Beckenham and we just thought nobody would come. It was quite a small venue but it still sold out in ten days. We realised that we had such a good time that there was actually a place to do this. My sister was a single mum and when her eldest was born she was going to lots of parenting events and it was just talking. And they weren't much fun and they were just about the babies really. I just wish I'd done this years earlier when she had her first baby!”

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And so it all developed from there. Now Bring Your Own Baby Comedy works with around 20 venues a year and does more than 50 shows.

Carly Smallman (contributed pic)Carly Smallman (contributed pic)
Carly Smallman (contributed pic)

“This is our first in Chichester. The theatre contacted us and said that they had heard good things and would we be interested. Actually they contacted me just as my business partner had decided to leave and I was so nervous running this whole thing by myself but it came at a good time. This one is quite special for me. It made me realise that I can do this by myself and just because I'm running it by myself it doesn't mean that I have to pull back. The fact is that people need fun far more than ever. It's all doom and gloom when you listen to the news. In fact, I've stopped reading the news. I think people just need to get out and have fun.

“I'm hosting this one. I'm not the host for all of them but for the first show in a new venue I like to come down and get to know the people. We've got two comedians who will be doing their usual 20 minutes set that they would be doing on a Friday night. It's just that they are doing it during the daytime. The babies can scream away as much as they like. The only thing we ask is that the parents don't do it as well!”

You will certainly be getting experienced comedians, though: “We only book comedians who have been working for years. As much as we'd like to support new comedians as comedians ourselves, you won’t get new comedians with us. It's really distracting for them and it's not just the noise really. Sometimes a cute baby will catch your eye and you just look at the baby and you just fall in love!”

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For the shows there is a 15 months age limit for the babies. Effectively it is for the babes in arms. And no, the comedy isn't necessarily about babies and can certainly be a little sweary at times, Carly says.