By NICOLE EVANS
With so much going on all at once at Latitude it’s simply impossible to get around everything, but in the spirit of ensuring a sample of all that is on offer, Saturday morning begins with a couple of hours in the Comedy tent.
Phil Ellis, who is no stranger to the festival, kicks things off with his ‘children’s’ game show, Funz and Gamez.
Having seen this show two years ago in a similar slot, we are hopeful of some new material and Ellis doesn’t disappoint. A few of the classic gags – such as ‘Don’t ask for a dog when you’re seven, it’ll die during your A-levels’ and ‘Don’t get too attached to your granny’ – remain the same, and the general theme of being a bitter divorcee runs throughout, but Ellis proves himself as a great comic, interacting well with the crowd from beginning to end and not taking himself too seriously.
With the help of Bonzo the piano playing Dog, Tim the Elf and drunk Uncle Mick, Ellis invites members of the audience up on stage to take part in ridiculous party games. With everything from a water fight and arm wrestles to an exercise in embarrassing the parents with cream pies, the adults are very much appreciating the humour and triviality of it all and the kids all get well involved in the fun; although it’s probably a good job they are at an age to not understand the gags.
After a short break while the crowd swaps around a little, and a bit of fill-in from the MC, Nina Conti takes to the stage. In her own words she ‘gets straight on with it’ and introduces us to the Monkey, diving straight in with some superb ventriloquism.
Beginning with some simple, humorous, monkey business she, and Monkey, work the crowd up with a bit of improvisation and the laughter flows immediately. There is somewhat of a lull part way through after Monkey hypnotises Conti and an initially seemingly irrelevant discussion ensues with a few audience members. As Conti awakes the clever set-up for the next stage in proceedings is quickly revealed. Inviting said audience members on to the stage she proceeds to fit them with comedy mouth masks and a spectacular display of multi-person ventriloquism follows. The three participants play along with the gags perfectly and Conti expertly bounces off their back stories with hilarious effects.
Appearing almost shy about her success, Conti certainly knows how to work a crowd and is nothing short of an expert in her field. 30 minutes just isn’t long enough and it’s a surprise she wasn’t given more of a headline slot.
As the tent fills further and space becomes an issue it is time to leave to hunt and gather some foodstuffs, but Ellis and Conti are definitely the perfect antidotes to cure a slow-starting Latitude Saturday mindset.
Latitude Festival runs from 13 – 16 July 2017 at Henham Park, Suffolk