Storytellers' Club

Storyteller’s Club was the friendliest stand-up night I’ve ever been to. It was also located in what appeared to be a cross between an igloo and an inflatable beehive. Or, as one storyteller put it, exactly like being digested by the Michelin Man. In this weird and wonderful venue a medley of comics, who on the night I went seemed to be predominantly Australian, told stories about Chance Encounters they had had.

The format was simple, but the stories were entertaining, affectionate and occasionally salacious. This was despite the compere Sarah Bennetto’s disclaimer that the theme for the following night was Secrets and that to avoid any libel cases they had banned all press. So I’ll skip any details which may trigger legal ramifications.

James Dowdeswell told an anecdote about meeting Stephen Fry in Waterstones, and in a desperate and misguided attempt to impress him with his vocabulary, greeted the man with ‘Ah Stephen, I heard you were lurking around here’. Dowdeswell was henceforth christened ‘The Lurker’ by Fry.

Michael Burke told a slightly more alarming story about being abducted in Malaysia and managing to escape by appealing to his kidnappers’ sense of morality. Then Matthew Highton talked about an encounter with Meatloaf on Hampstead Heath persuading him to bludgeon to death a gaggle of geese. The impression of a dying goose was, I imagine, accurately portrayed, but Highton laboured the honks a little too long.

After that came my favourite storytellers of the evening, the five man improv group The Noise Next Door (I thought they were also a boy band from the mid-90s but whatever) who created a musical tale prompted by audience suggestions about little Jimmy the herb packer who goes to Mars with Edward the Potato King of Russia in order to discover a new genre of herb. Rounding off the storytelling was Steve Coltrane; his tale of heckling Boris Johnson for his tardiness in coming back to London #riots 2011 - ‘had a good holiday Boris?’ - was relayed as a fond memory because the other 100 people in the crowd had exactly the same idea. Call it community bonding.

It was far more genial than any comedy gig I’ve seen after 10pm, if just as intoxicated - but in a happy rather than mardy drunk fashion.

Reviews by Laura Francis

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The Blurb

Comedians gather round the campfire to tell witching hour tales. Different special guests, nightly. You show. We tell. 'Just go and see it' (TimeOut). 'Shows like Storytellers' are what make the Festival so special' (Australian Comedy Review).