Comedy centre stage at Hitchin’s Rhythms of the World

COMEDY will be taking centre stage at this year’s Rhythms of the World festival as organisers seek to bring something different.

Those visiting the Icehouse Stage at the Hitchin festival in July will be treated to a two-hour comedy set for the first time.

Introduced last year, the stage at The Priory will span a variety of mediums including music, dance and magic during the weekend, but Rhythms of the World performance director Steve Smither was keen to try something new too.

Speaking about the launch of Icehouse last year, Steve said: “The thinking behind it was to take the best of what was going on at the Arena but find a better place for it. After the great success of Icehouse in 2011 we’ve built on that and expanded the programme to bring something new to the festival for 2012. This stage really gives us the opportunity to present performers from the local community enabling them to develop their talents and entertain a lively and enthusiastic audience.”

Now comedy will take to the stage on the Saturday, July 14, between 1.45pm and 3.45pm after the festival has teamed up with comedian Paul B Edwards and his Lastminutecomedy Club, which holds a monthly night in Hitchin and Letchworth GC.

“I know Paul’s the right man and will bring in the right people to do it,” said Steve.

“He’s got an eye for quality and from our perspective we can’t see any reason why it’s not going to be a permanent fixture at the festival.

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“I’m not going to rest on my laurels and say it’s working perfectly, there’s always a challenge. I think that the festival has to do something different and look at what can be done to improve and that’s what we’ve done this year.”

Alongside his own material, Paul has assembled five acts so far - Kate Lucas, Ouze Valley Singles Club, Damian Kingsley, Shaun Jacques and J T Taylor - with more to come.

Paul, who said that the show will be aimed at an adult audience, said: “I’m looking forward to it as I’ve always wanted to get involved and I love Rhythms of the World. I’m hoping to have at least eight acts so we’re really going to fill up the time with rising stars from the UK comedy circuit and local talent.”

Alongside comedy there will also be acoustic performances from singer songwriter Katie Malco, last year’s Main Stage troubadour Andrea Wilde and friends, Robbing King Richard, The Folk and Jordan Bradley, who will all be appearing on the Saturday.

“Sunday is 100 per cent youth based and that is to give the youngsters an opportunity to get out there and perform,” added Steve.

Dance groups Irish Dance from Grants, Street Dance from Aspire and Bex Crew and Bollywood Dance are all set to feature on a stage which closes with a barn dance led by Jump the Vortex.