INTERVIEW: Della Hadingham | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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This year’s Jesterval is taking place at the BALTIC Square in Newcastle from Friday 5th June until Sunday 14th June and is set to be one of their biggest events yet. With the likes of Ed Byrne and Paul foot lining up alongside local comic talent such as Lee Kyle, Lost Voice Guy, Matt Reed and Steffen Peddie, the week-long festival could be the most rib-tickling in Jesterval’s three-year history.

I caught up with co-organiser and booker Della Hadingham ahead of the event to ask more about what it’s like to bring so much comedy talent together, her dream line up and whether there really is a lack of female comics out there.

This is the third year of the festival, have you found it easier now it’s more established, or do you find you feel you have to top the previous year and that creates additional stress? 

It certainly does not become easier as a whole, but when it comes to finding great comedians, there are so many to choose from. The hardest thing is not being able to fit them all in.

This year’s line up seems to have a great mix of comics, cutting edge acts, established artists, both local and national. Is that what you wanted before you started organising Jesterval? 

It was always our intention to bring a variety of quality acts, with a view that we can provide something for everyone. We also think it is very important to support local talent, of which there is an abundance at the moment.

The BALTIC Square is a rather unusual venue, do you feel it adds to the festival feel?

We think that it is a great location, between the Sage and the BALTIC with views of the quayside and bridges, it is the perfect backdrop.

Have you managed to book anyone who you didn’t think would come? 

Yes everyone…. Only joking. Because we have worked in the industry for some time, both on and off the stage, we have built a lot of good relationships and this has helped us to attract some amazing acts in these early years.

Do you have a dream list of stand-ups you’d like to get in the forthcoming years? 

Quite a few of them have already played, but of course there are many more such as Daniel Kitson, Sarah Millican, Kitty Flanagan, Ross Noble and Jo Brand amongst others.

Is the Jesterval email address the only way to book tickets or are there any other options?

You can book tickets via our website and you can also buy them on site from the 3rd June 2015.

Do people still have to book tickets in advance for the many free shows? 

I would advise that they do book them in advance, as they are very popular.

sara pascoe

Sara Pascoe

“Personally, I do not see gender when booking; you book based on quality”

Is the line up complete now or are there still some slots available for interested comedians? 

The lineup is complete, but we are happy for people to express interest for next year.

As one of the promoters and bookers, and as a woman, were you upset that previously there were several dissenting voices regarding the supposed lack of female comics? Has that influenced how you’ve gone about booking acts this year? 

I was very upset, most of my favourite comedians are women and it bothers me when people look for something negative in everything rather than concentrating on the positive. This happened back in 2013, the first year that we decided to take Jesterval into its own space. We literally had two months to book the festival and unfortunately that meant that we missed out on a lot of the acts that we wanted to perform. Quite a few of these were female comedians.

Personally, I do not see gender when booking; you book based on quality and availability and after many years in this industry I can assure you we are not short of quality female acts, the only problem that I have experienced, is that they are generally always booked up!

Can we put Jesterval 2016 into our diaries yet?

Yes you can! We generally take a month off at the end of the festival and then start planning for the following year. Of course, we want to go on forever but can only continue as long as the support from our customers does. As long as they are enjoying it, we will keep bringing it to them.

Jesterval takes place between Friday 5th June and Sunday 14th June.



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