Pints, puns and putdowns at Norwich pub comedy festival

Canadian comedian Dana Alexander who will be appearing at the Unthank Comedy Festival

Canadian comedian Dana Alexander who will be appearing at the Unthank Comedy Festival - Credit: Archant

The Norwich mic awaits top comedy stalwarts and upcoming new talents. SIMON PARKIN previews what's on offer at the Unthank Comedy Festival.

Many pubs boast quick witted patrons ready with a one-liner or put down — but once a year The Unthank Arms in Norwich hosts a different class of barroom banter.

The well-known Golden Triangle pub hosts its 10th comedy festival this weekend — a three day event that has grown from strength to strength and attracts some top comedians.

Held in a spacious marquee in the pub garden the festival has grown into a popular annual event with both local residents and comedy lovers from all across the region.

Over the years it has welcomed some acclaimed comedy talent to its intimate stage — some well known faces from the comedy circuit. That mix is reflected again in this year's line-up.

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On July 12 the bill will be headed by Zoe Lyons, who is always popular on her regular appearances in Norwich with a charming mix of silliness, satire and one-liners.

Zoe created a huge buzz on the comedy circuit in 2004 when she won the 'Nivea Funny Women Award 2004' and reached the finals of Channel 4's So You Think You're Funny Award in the same year. As a result she has become a highly sought after act on comedy circuit.

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She will be joined by Comedy Store and Jongleurs regular Gordon Southern, whose upbeat and energetic delivery combines fantastically funny observational comedy and quick witted improvisation, and consummate stand-up Roger Monkhouse, known for his trademark stage-prowling style and curious, inimitable manner.

After a misspent youth and a series of grim jobs that cultivated his cynical outlook on life self-confessed pessimist Mike Gunn is on the bill for July 13. Describing himself as 'not a natural choice for a career in laughter', he nevertheless has a rare ability to walk close to the line of what audiences find acceptable and yet still remain likable and funny. His reputation for being a bit unfriendly, a touch dark and even morose is really not true.

He is joined by comedy circuit stalwart Sean Meo, who was once a professional snooker player, before he turned to a career in comedy. Also at the mic will be Canadian comedian Dana Alexander, who moved to the UK to premiered her one woman show at Edinburgh and has gone on to be named 'Best Comic' and 'Best International Act' at the Chortle Comedy Awards.

Rob Rouse, who was a geography teacher before winning Channel Four's prestigious So You Think You're Funny Competition at the Edinburgh Festival and becoming one of the presenters of The Friday Night Project, will be appearing on July 14.

The night will also include Steve Hall, a former finalist in the BBC New Comedy Award and Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award, and whose solo show, Vice Captain Loser, won five-star reviews in Edinburgh.

Geoff Norcott's abundance of energy combined with a storming mix of observations, impressions and satire has made him a hugely popular act and he is sure to go down a storm as he closes the festival.

A sharp comic mind and a knack with one-liners have made him a regular on many topical and sports related shows, including frequent guest spots on Talksport's Hawksby & Jacobs Show, where he endeavours to see the funny side of cricket.

Unthank Comedy Festival, Unthank Arms, Newmarket Street, July 12-14, 7.30pm, each night £12.50, 01603 508050,

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