Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sound of Laughter Flows along Banks of the Tyne F You've Crossed the Millennium Bridge This Weekend, There's a Decent Chance and Astrology to Doodle-Ology and Psychology (the Latter, He Assures Us, Is 'A Real I; Jesterval Filled Baltic Square with Laughs at the Weekend Courtesy of a Top Drawer Bill of Talent. SAM WONFOR and KAREN WILSON Took a Seat for Some Stand Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sound of Laughter Flows along Banks of the Tyne F You've Crossed the Millennium Bridge This Weekend, There's a Decent Chance and Astrology to Doodle-Ology and Psychology (the Latter, He Assures Us, Is 'A Real I; Jesterval Filled Baltic Square with Laughs at the Weekend Courtesy of a Top Drawer Bill of Talent. SAM WONFOR and KAREN WILSON Took a Seat for Some Stand Up

Article excerpt

IF you've crossed the Millennium Bridge this weekend, there's a decent chance you'll have heard the echoes of laughter ringing out across the Tyne.

And what a lovely sound it was too. Jesterval, the Newcastle Gateshead comedy festival returned for a second year, opening up its considerable box of funny tricks on Thursday for a five-day event.

And on the basis of our on-the-ground experiences over the weekend, it seems to have been a roaring success - on both the audience number and raucous laughter fronts.

Friday night's late show offered us our first foray into the 350-seater Jesterval marquee, with a four-strong bill of comics assembled to bring the night to a close.

While it was undoubtedly the show-closing observational charms of 40-something Irishman Ed Byrne which had tempted many inside (although some may have thought they were coming to see Chris Huhne's ex-wife Vicky Pryce, apparently), there were no weak links to be found on stage.

MC and veteran Geordie comic Mickey Hutton was an old school treat, while festival organiser Dave Hadingham also offered more than a few belly laughs with a catalogue of double-layered gags testing the boundaries of taste in a very funny manner. But it was penultimate act, father-of-triplets Ben Norris, who we agreed stole the show with a combination of sharp observations and warm audience interaction. Bravo indeed.

Saturday evening saw us prepare ourselves for a triple bill of fun from 7pm onwards.

First up was Jason Cook's new show, which promised to 'make our lives better'. And for the hour or so we were in his company, the award-winning writer of BBC2 comedy Hebburn, made good on his pledge.

After sharing a few tales from the set of the recently-wrapped second series, including a local who congratulated him on not portraying his native countrymen as, shall we say, 'unmentionables' and the fish and chip shop lady who offered him his most cherished freebie of fame yet - an extra fish at closing time - the very likeable Jason went on to take us through some rare and memorable holiday experiences - most recently those endured at Center Parcs.

Mixing characters from Narnia with a case of baby goat vandalism and feeling at odds with the friendliness of strangers, Jason offered a tailor-made show for his home crowd and seemed genuinely humbled at the jam-packed turnout.

Next up was Tom Binns' camp clairvoyant creation Ian D. …

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