I have just graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London with a degree in English and Drama. I’m originally from Newport, but have spent the last 3 years in Surrey. Moving back to Newport has been a bit of a culture shock for me as I am now used to being surrounded by the arts, something that I didn’t think was the case in Newport.
Prior to a few weeks ago I didn’t realise the variety of events that were organised by The Riverfront or that Newport has a comedy festival. Having performed stand-up at uni during my reign as president of the Royal Holloway society and having performed in a comedy sketch show in Edinburgh (and caught the comedy bug) I am thrilled that Newport has this to offer…and that at a time where the arts are being affected by government cuts and the recession that Newport is still trying hard to improve the local arts scene.
Why am I excited for Newport’s second annual Comedy Festival? It’s simple really; I adore comedy. I live and breathe it. I perform it, I watch it, I write it. Comedy has helped me face my greatest fears and overcome the most difficult of times. That is my hope for Newport. I believe strongly in the cathartic power of a comedic voice. Industrial cities in the UK are crippled by the economic downturn. This case could not be more evident in Newport. I was horrified to return from my student life in Surrey to discover just how much the recession has hit my hometown. You only have to walk through Newport City Centre to see that it has been hit heavily. Newport is a depressed city. We need a Comedy Festival. Comedy gives Newport the opportunity to voice its frustrations and laugh in the face of hard times. To use a well worn cliche: laughter is the best medicine.
It is my hope that with the continuation of Comedy Port that Newport can heal and begin a new chapter. A Comedy Festival in Newport can only benefit the city. Laughter is a unifying tool, as when we laugh collectively, it is because we identify with the same things. A Comedy Festival provides a great opportunity not only for Newport’s economic recovery, but also improving community spirit and providing relief to Newportonians when so many face worry due to the recession. This festival gives Newport something to be proud of, to fight back against the recession and show the rest of the UK that Newport and indeed Wales has a voice. I hope that Comedy Port will make way for a vibrant comedy scene, where we will see Welsh people encouraged to write and perform comedy and a stronger, more positive image of Welsh culture in English media. Newport has always existed as Cardiff’s poor relative. The festival will help promote the arts scene in Newport and prove Newport to be a serious competitor in the field of the arts. It will undoubtedly make Newport a more attractive place to perform and invest. I believe the future to be bright for Newport and am proud to be part of Newport Comedy Festival and Newport’s future.
Kate is volunteering at Comedy Port and we’re hoping to twist her arm and perform at Sessions Open Mic Night.