Wanstead Fringe 2021 will include a number of stand-up comedy shows aimed at kids. It’s a genre that has become increasingly popular, says Wanstead Comedy Night organiser Jon Fentiman
In recent years, the popularity of stand-up comedy amongst younger children has seriously taken off. There are now a growing number of clubs and comedians tailoring their shows specifically to a younger, school-aged audience. However, despite stand-up giving off an edgy, alternative vibe, much of the credit for its growing popularity among primary aged kids must go to mainstream terrestrial TV, and one show in particular.
Often sneered at by the comedy industry, the producers of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent have, in fact, done more than perhaps anyone to raise the profile of stand-up comedy among kids. Broadcast before the watershed, and with the semi-finals and final often aired during spring half-term, Britain’s Got Talent has allowed youngsters to enjoy family friendly stand-up, often for the first time. And it is little surprise that in the last few years, comedians have done exceptionally well on the show.
Robert White (who has performed his club set a number of times for Wanstead Comedy Night) was runner up in 2017, and in 2018 and 2020 respectively, Lost Voice Guy Lee Ridley and musical comedian Jon Courtenay were both Britain’s Got Talent series winners. There can be little doubt that success in the competition is reliant on the thousands of votes cast by young schoolkids, armed with a mobile device and keen to exercise their democratic preference (with, of course, the bill-payer’s permission!).
In 2019, Graeme Mathews, a regular MC at our club, reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent with his mixture of Tommy Cooper-style comedy and magic. A talented circuit comedian, Graeme has also been a successful children’s entertainer for 20 years, and in the guise of his alter ego Bam Bam, Graeme knows exactly how to balance humour, magic and audience participation to produce a show that can be truly enjoyed by everyone, from five to 95!
Selling out when he last performed during Wanstead Fringe 2019, Bam Bam will be returning with a whole host of new tricks and family friendly comedy for Wanstead Fringe 2021 at St Gabriel’s Church Hall on 11 September from 3pm. In addition, Wanstead Comedy Night has organised a special comedy improv show for kids aged eight and over and their parents. Shoot From The Hip, one of the UK’s most talented, critically acclaimed improv troupes, will be performing their show tailored for children at The Wanstead Tap on 8 September from 5pm.
The format of Britain’s Got Talent, with its over-scripted backstories, may not be to everyone’s liking, but its contribution in bringing the enjoyment of stand-up comedy to a much younger audience certainly gets a “yes” from me.
For more information on Wanstead Fringe 2021 events and to book tickets, visit wnstd.com/fringe21