Bristol’s lively and varied calendar of festivals opens in 2020 with a collaboration between two of the city’s favourites: Cary Grant Comes Home, celebrating that Bristol is the birthplace of the Hollywood star and style icon, and Slapstick, the UK’s biggest festival of silent screen and classic comedy.

Both are combining to mark Cary Grant’s January 18 birthdate with a screening at Watershed of the 1933 comedy She Done Him Wrong, in which Cary Grant tempts seductive Mae West to utter her famous “Come up and see me” line.

There will be more Cary Grant events much later in the year but Slapstick stages its 16th annual edition from January 23 to 26 with a programme featuring visits from an impressive line-up of celebrities – among them Rob Brydon, Barry Cryer, all three members of The Goodies, Harry Hill, Shappi Khorsandi, Paul McGann, Stephen Merchant and Lucy Porter.

In all, 25 events figure in the Slapstick 2020 programme and these are 6 highlights not to miss. 

Stephen Merchant’s Laurel & Hardy Classics

25 January, 8.30pm at Redgrave Theatre

Bristol-born actor, comedian, director and writer Stephen Merchant will explain why he ranks Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as cinema’s all-time greatest double act and introduce some of his favourite clips.

Stephen Merchant's Laurel and Hardy Classics

Harry Hill’s Kidz Show: How to be funny for kids

26 January, 12pm at Bristol Old Vic 

Harry Hill is passing on top tips for young would-be comedians in a live and family-friendly 'Show and Tell' packed with gags, giggles and slapstick foolery inspired by his best-selling Matt Millz books.

Harry Hill Kidz Show for Slapstick Festival

Slapstick Divas hosted By Shappi Khorsandi

23 January, 8pm at Bristol Cathedral

Stand-up Shappi Khorsandi hosts a celebration of Slapstick Divas, a clips and chats event at which journalist Samira Ahmed and comedian Lucy Porter look at early depictions of Suffragettes on film. Expect a treasury of rarely seen silent comedy footage starring some of the era’s best-loved female stars, among them Mabel Normand.

Shappi Khorsandi host of Slapstick Divas

The Goodies: 50th Anniversary

25 January, 6pm at Redgrave Theatre

A 50th anniversary hat tip to the award-winning TV series The Goodies, during which all three members of the madcap trio - Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie - will share clips and memories from the 77 episodes they made between 1970 and 1982.

The Goodies

47 years without a clue: Hosted by Rob Brydon

26 January, 5pm at Bristol Old Vic

Rob Brydon will quiz I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue regulars about their 47 years of being given silly things to do as part of a TV/radio nostalgia strand. They will also be remembering At Last The 1948 Show, with three of its original cast; I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again; the late great Tommy Cooper, and vintage TV cartoons.

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

Silent Comedy Gala at Bristol Cathedral: Hosted by Paul McGann

24 January, 8pm at Bristol Cathedral

A Bristol Cathedral screening of Buster Keaton’s lovingly restored Our Hospitality (1923) in 4K glory, accompanied live by the European Silent Screen Virtuosi, plus shorts from Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, all introduced by actor and silent film fan Paul McGann.

There are also multiple events showing newly restored, recently rediscovered or unfairly forgotten early comedies starring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and their many European counterparts.

More details of all events in the Slapstick 2020 line-up, including dates, times, ticket prices and booking arrangements, can be found at or in the festival’s free brochure. Information is also being shared via the Slapstick Festival page on Facebook or can be found by following @SlapstickFest on Twitter and Instagram

Slapstick’s principal funders are Aardman Animations ( and the British Film Institute (

Find more festivalscomedy and film events in 2020 by browsing our What's On pages. 


Slapstick Festival
Bristol Slapstick Festival 2018

The Slapstick annual festival is held every January (Since 2005!) and gives audiences a unique and often once in a life time opportunity to see some extraordinary films in unique circumstances.

Slapstick Festival: Silent Comedy Gala
Modern Times - courtesy of Chaplin Estate

A mesmerising gala evening of live music to film showcasing your all-time favourite comedy stars. This classic comedy gala is perfect for film and comedy fans of all ages.

Watershed Bristol Harbourside

Enjoy a lively programme of independent film, digital media and events at this fantastic media centre in the heart of the Harbourside

Bristol Old Vic Theatre
Bristol Old Vic Theatre exterior

Built in 1766, Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world, and remains a place of joy, discovery and adventure to this day.

Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral

Much more than a fascinating building, being a fine example of a hall church, it is a centre of Bristol's history, civic life and culture.