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Slapstick Festival

Add Slapstick Festival to your Itinerary

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.

It showcases and celebrates archive film predominately from the silent era (1895-1930), accompanied by live musical scores performed by world class musicians, and introduced by some of the most prominent film historians, experts, and comedians inspired by the comedy legends on screen!

The year’s festival is divided between a strong archive programme of silent comedy at Watershed (16-20 Jan) and a classic comedy strand at Bristol Old Vic (18-20 Jan), with guest curator Richard Herring programming a number of special events. 

There will also be a Silent Comedy Gala at Bristol Hippodrome on Sunday 10 February,

Combined with more recent and contemporary visual comedy film and work from neglected comedy artists from past decades, the festival aims to inspire people's interest in onscreen visual and classic comedy from over the last 100 years!

To see the full list of events visit the Slapstick Festival website.


Chaplin: A King In New York (1957) with David Robinson
To open the 15th edition of the Slapstick Festival… a talkie! Introduced by Chaplin biographer and critic, David Robinson, A King in New York is Chaplin’s take on 1950s America.

Keaton: Battling Butler (1926)
Based on the Broadway play, the story revolves around two Alfred Butlers – one (Keaton) a mild-mannered millionaire, the other a boxing world champion. Introduced here by film editor and PhD student of Keaton's filmmaking, Polly Rose. With live accompaniment by Guenter A. Buchwald and Frank Bockius

Holy Smoke!  Religion & Comedy
Panel discussion hosted by Andrew Kelly (Festival of Ideas) in conversation with comedians Robin Ince and Lucy Porter. Following a screening of Chaplin’s THE PILGRIM (1923), the panel will explore whether ‘being funny’ is justification for mocking religion, or if there are some things comedy should not touch..

For Heaven’s Sake! Hosted by Robin Ince
Bristol Cathedral
£15.00/£12.00 concs
An evening of unadulterated cinematic joy. Sit back in the grandeur of Bristol Cathedral and enjoy three classic silent comedies on the big screen accompanied by live music.  Featuring Harold Lloyd’s classic feature For Heaven’s Sake and films from Laurel & Hardy and Anita Garvin & Marion Byron. 



Leading Women Rediscovering Alice Howell
Standup comedian and writer Lucy Porter champions this rarely seen prolific performer who was a huge comedy star in the late teens and early 1920s.

Leading Women Mary Pickford: Little Annie Roonie (1925)
​​​​Academy Award winner Mary Pickford plays a tomboy of the tenements in this comedy drama, which she also wrote. Shot entirely on set at the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio the film co-stars a wide-ranging, multi-ethnic cast. The film met with huge critical and commercial success upon its original release, proving fans and critics alike wanted the then 33-year old Mary to stay a child forever.

Leading Women On the Trail of Cunégonde
Around 1912-1913, the French company Société Lux produced comedies with the main character Cunégonde. The surviving films feature the same actress playing either an unruly maid, an annoying spinster or a ferocious wife (always called Cunégonde). The true identity of the actress playing Cunégonde has been a mystery for decades, until now. Discover this extraordinary story about a mysterious woman who was internationally acclaimed in her time but then lost for more than a century.

Robin Ince: I’m A Joke And So Are You: Part 2
£5.00-£8.00 (16.30-17.30)
A celebration of comedy and its ability to connect people via foolishness and silly voices.

Les Deux Timides (1928)
René Clair’s LES DEUX TIMIDES takes what could be a Max Linder scenario of a young middle-class man overcoming obstacles in pursuit of a pretty girl, merges it with Chaplinesque outsider charm and punctuates it with Keystone-quality chaos.

Happiness (1934) 
This Russian comedy drama features a hapless loser who undergoes a series of misadventures with avaricious clergy, a tired horse and a walking granary (among other things) on his road to collectivised happiness. Screened with original synchronised score.



Sydney, The Other Chaplin (2017) 
Would Charlie Chaplin have ever reached his heights of success if it weren't for his big brother, Sydney? An improbable character inhabiting the shadows with a fiction-like destiny, Sydney’s role is explored in this new documentary from Lobster Films. Introduced by Chaplin biographer David Robinson.

Rediscoveries and Revelations | Honest Hutch (1920)
Watch one of the most popular figures in the United States of the 1930s, Will Rogers in this rare silent comedy western. With live Piano accompaniment.

A Celebration of Steamboat Bill, Jr. with Peter Krämer
Peter Krämer, the author of the BFI Film Classics volume on Buster Keaton’s The General makes a welcome return to Slapstick Festival to discuss one of Buster’s most accomplished works. 

Stan & Ollie (2019)
Newly-released masterful biopic on the world’s greatest comedy duo. In this special screening, Stan & Ollie is introduced by critic and film historian David Robinson. David is uniquely placed to introduce the movie and reveal all about his time with the duo, having met and interviewed them during the period depicted in the film – following their appearance onstage at Bristol Hippodrome.

Rediscoveries and Revelations | Lost & Found
From film collector Anthony Saffrey comes a further selection of rare and unseen silent comedy gems. A memorable afternoon of discovery and delight. Accompanied by Daan Van den Hurk on piano and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry on harp.

An Audience with Little & Large: A Larger Than Life Story
Bristol Old Vic
In conversation with presenter and writer Matthew Sweet, one of Britain’s best comedy double acts of all time, Little and Large. At their peak Syd Little and Eddie Large attracted up to 25 million viewers to The Little and Large Show (1976-1992). Tragedy hit in the form of serious health issues for Eddie and a fight for his life, leading to the premature end of their act. Hear their unique showbiz story in their first onstage appearance together for decades.

Laurel & Hardy: Way Out West (1937) Pre-screening introduction from Bill Oddie and Robin Ince
Bristol Old Vic 
In this classic comedy from Stan & Ollie a prospector enlists the pair to deliver the deed to a goldmine to his daughter Mary in Brushwood Gulch. Considered by many – including Bill Oddie – to be Laurel & Hardy’s finest and funniest film, this screening is proceeded by a brief onstage chat with Robin Ince and Bill Oddie.



Ancient Animated Slapstick with Peter Lord
Cinema was still a precocious toddler, when it acquired a brash, bouncy sibling. Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman, will present some unusual gems from the early, magical days of animation – featuring a cast of cats, rabbits – and of course one very famous mouse.

Louise Brooks: Icon, Muse, Comedian with Sally Phillips
It’s the Old Army Gang (1926)
Bristol Old Vic
Actress, presenter and comedian Sally Phillips joins Slapstick to introduce this film co-starring the silent screen actress Louise Brooks in an early W.C. Fields silent comedy. With live musical accompaniment from the European Silent Screen Virtuosi.

Complete Goodies  Richard Herring in conversation with Tim, Bill and Graeme
Bristol Old Vic
For the first time ever anywhere in the world every episode of THE GOODIES has been released for obsessive fans -  young and old. To celebrate, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie reunite on stage at Bristol Old Vic for a unique afternoon in conversation.

Tim Vine’s Top Comedy Moments
Bristol Old Vic
Tim reveals his personal comedy favourite moments and influences. With Richard Herring leading the chat, this will be a rare chance to witness what happens when two masters of quick wit and tight timing team up.

Teenage Kicks: The Inbetweeners Phenomenonwith Damon Beesley, Iain Morris and Joe Thomas
Bristol Old Vic
In just three series, The Inbetweeners (2008-2010) became nothing short of a national comedy phenomenon. Series creator/writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris created four totally new hapless teenagers the nation could identify with. In conversation, series creators and actor Joe Thomas reflect on the show’s success and its ongoing legacy.

The Inbetweeners Movie (2011) Introduced by members of the cast and crew
Bristol Old Vic
This critically-acclaimed spin off from the BAFTA award winning TV series set the record for the biggest opening weekend for a comedy film in the UK. It’s a real coming-of-age film – where four boys try to be cool with classically embarrassing consequences. 

Enjoy both Inbetweeners events for just £25.00*



Lost Heroes of Comedy with Robert Ross
Why are Eric & Ernie and Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd so fondly remembered, while Arthur Haynes and Charlie Drake and Harry Langdon languish in the archives? These once celebrated stars, from the silent days of Hollywood to the comedy club boom, come under the spotlight in this affectionate tribute by comedy historian Robert Ross..

Classic Big Screen Comedy: Dad’s Army (1971Introduced by Frank Williams
Bristol Old Vic
This classic feature spin off from the TV series was made between the third and fourth Dad’s Army TV series, by which time the show was firmly established as Britain’s best-loved sitcom, a position it retains to this day, more than 40 years on from the end of its original nine-year run.

More Tea Vicar? With Dad’s Army Vicar, Frank Williams
Bristol Old Vic
Join Dad’s Army Vicar, actor Frank Williams, as he celebrates a lifetime on stage, film and television. Hosted by author, entertainer and producer, Chris Gidney, gain a first-hand insight into the slightly tetchy vicar, trying to come to terms with the elderly platoon’s invasion of his beloved church hall. Plus a unique glimpse behind the scenes of Dad’s Army, including Frank’s rarely seen home movie of the Dad’s Army cast on tour.

Enjoy both DAD’S ARMY events for just £20.00**

Slattery Will Get You Nowhere! 
Bristol Old Vic Studio
Slapstick welcomes comedian and actor Tony Slattery as he reveals all in conversation with comedy historian Robert Ross. This is an unstructured and unpredictable gallop through several lifetimes worth of poignant and hilarious anecdotes. Anything can happen and it probably will!

Jimmy Cricket LIVE
Bristol Old Vic
With his trademark wellington boots (on the wrong feet), his famous letters from his Mammy and his catchphrases he holds the hearts of all those that were fans of his TV and radio shows. As hilarious as ever, and winning new fans wherever he performs, Jimmy will excite and delight audiences with his special brand of family friendly stand up comedy.

Hancock & Co. – One Man, Many Voices With James Hurn
Bristol Old Vic Studio
James Hurn will be performing a brand-new programme including one classic episode of Hancock’s Half Hour, and two episodes he has written himself in the same style as Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, with James voicing the entire cast! The new show is performed in the style of a radio performance in front of a live audience, bringing to life the classic days of radio comedy.

Barry Cryer and Colin Sell: Live Again!
Bristol Old Vic
In yet another farewell tour, Baz returns, re-united with Colin Sell who refuses to take no for an answer.

Laurel Hardy’s Choice Morsels with Richard Herring and friends
Bristol Old Vic
Laugh out loud with three classic shorts from the greatest comedy double act of all time. A rare chance to see the boys as they were meant to be seen, on the big screen. 



Meet Charlie! with David Robinson
A one-hour programme presented by David Robinson, who knew Sir Charles Chaplin and wrote the definitive biography of the cinema's greatest clown - the man with the funny walk who still delights a world-wide audience, young and old, after a hundred years.  With live piano accompaniment from Daan van der Hurk Recommended for age 6+

Slapstick Sunday with Andy Day  Featuring Gertie the Dinosaur and friends onscreen
Bristol Hippodrome
£10.00* plus booking fees
Join popular children’s tv presenter Andy for a laugh-out-loud extravaganza film show created especially for your little ones. Andy will share some of his favourite funny film clips. He’s chosen a selection of hysterical silent comedies and animations to delight and entertain your children.


  • Slapstick Festival 2018 Trailer

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Various Venues

Opening Times

Dates: (16 Jan 2019 - 20 Jan 2019)

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Colston Hall Bristol, Central Bristol

Sunday, 10th February 2019 - Sunday, 10th February 2019

Modern Times - courtesy of Chaplin EstateSlapstick Festival: Silent Comedy Gala
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