Open. Laugh. Close. 

BIRMINGHAM COMEDY FESTIVAL:
IT'S A FESTIVAL ABOUT COMEDY
IN BIRMINGHAM

Laughter reduces stress. It's science, yo. So we're mandating mirth for you hard-working lot virtue of Birmingham Comedy Festival, the annual 10-day city-wide chuckle-thang. From the very well known to some newer names, these be the gigs you'll need to book now. Ah, but it's not actually on until October — so stress-wise, you're on your own until then. HUGS
Joe Lycett, Oct 11, Town Hall
See Joe in conversation with fellow Brummie, Jess Phillips MP, herself no stranger to funny thanks to her appearance on the excellent Unspun With Matt Forde on Dave. And if you’ve never seen Lycett, you should really change that. He’s been favourably compared to both Frankie Howerd and Larry Grayson, and has much in common with, say, Peter Kay or Victoria Wood in that he is simply imbued with humour. Every exasperated facial expression and catty quip makes him one of the circuit’s brightest stars and a truly special talent. £18. More
Matt Lucas, Oct 14, Town Hall
A book reading from his new autobiography rather than straight stand-up, given the hugely likable Lucas was born to perform, it still promises to be special. After all, what a life: from Reeves & Mortimer in the Nineties, to breakout success with Little Britain in the Noughties (when Gary from accounts is using the catchphrase “I want that one”, you know something has seeped into the popular consciousness), in recent years he’s chalked up a raft of TV and film credits which are bound to make his bio a barnstormer. £18 to £23. More
Greg Davies, Oct 10, Symphony Hall
Much of Davies’ charm comes from his everyman appeal. Like Mickey Flanagan before him, Davies has a face that looks like it’s seen some stuff. He's the master of turning his toe-curling past into comedy gold, and here there’s a standout anecdote about a toy from his childhood which you’ll be talking about on the way home. Like Flanagan, the avuncular Davies lived a life before getting into LOL (as a drama teacher), while fame came to him relatively late, all of which makes him that bit more relatable. £30.50. More
Jayde Adams, Oct 13, Glee
Jayde Adams’ new show is all about acceptance and fitting in, but if her breakthrough year is anything to go by, she’s been embraced with open arms. This bombastic, charismatic performer has displayed her prowess as a comedy actress in sitcom Borderline, in her own short for Sky Arts, and as a comedy tour de force on 8 Out Of 10 Cats — which has proved to be a springboard for so many emerging acts. Perhaps not as well known as others in this list, so a golden opportunity to get on board as the bandwagon gains momentum. £12. More
Simon Day, Oct 15, Glee
You probably know the name, but it’s only when you see his distinctive hangdog face that the penny truly drops: yes, it’s him from The Fast Show and, more recently, Brian Pern. Day makes a welcome return to live performing, showcasing four of his best-loved characters: pub bore Billy Bleach (remember him screaming “Puma!” on a pub quiz machine in The Fast Show), unpublished poet Geoffrey Allerton, Tony Beckton — one of Britain’s most-dangerous men — and the fictional god of prog rock, Brian Pern. Sadly, no Cockney eco warrior Dave Angel. £20. More
Zoe Lyons, Jonny Awsum and Kate Smurthwaite, Oct 12, The Bramall
Some acts want to challenge audiences, make them think in new and exciting ways. Laughter? Ha. That’s merely a bonus. And then there’s Jonny Awsum, a man born to entertain. Expect sing-a-longs, feelgood songs and a damned good time. There’s also Zoe Lyons (pictured), who possesses a positively Wodehouseian knack for understanding the human condition, while being one of the best comedians working today. Political laughs come from Question Time pundit Kate Smurthwaite. £10. More
Simon Amstell, Oct 15, Town Hall
Even though Simon Amstell’s stand-up isn’t what you might expect, you must catch him live. He is a terrific comedian, tonally closer to, say, early Woody Allen than the young scamp who enjoyed making rock stars’ blood boil on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. His fifth solo tour promises to be heartfelt, profound and – don’t worry – very funny indeed, even if his deep outlook is a world away from his break out performances in Channel 4's Sunday morning hangover soother Popworld (yep - he's that guy). £26. More

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE


Bespoke. One-off. Specially curated and/or paired. All phrases that we struggle not to see in press releases these days. But if you're in the market for food-based experiences which hit remarkable by more than chance, you need Kaye Winwood's events in your life. Regularly pairing up with chef/wizard Chris Hughes, their last big deal was Breakfast of Champions, in which Two Cats became a greasy spoon "caff" for the day (pictured). The six-course composition included silly good plays on "egg and soldiers", finishing up with a ludicrous edible cigarettes and black coffee course. Next up is a backward running dining experience and edible journey through The Devil’s Larder by author Jim Crace. Part of Birmingham Literature Festival, Winwood is describing the evening as "the most ambitious we have worked on in terms of food, plating, narrative, and set". Not by press release. They don't need press releases. Probably get a ticket fast. On October 15, it's £99 for five-courses, drinks flight and whatever wonderful crazy the team conjures before then. It's not just London, pushing the envelope. Never forget that. And here's where the phrase "pushing the envelope" comes from. It's really cool.  

BENNETT'S HILL'S NEWEST RASOI-DENT


Street food deliciousness is coming to a Bennett's Hill near you. On the site of Adam's first gaff, The Indian Rasoi will be doing its thing from August 25. Primarily takeaway at lunch with half the seating removed, Indian Streatery will cover up to 45 in the evening and be open to you, AND you, and even YOU, Monday to Saturday. Yum town.

DDC: LONGBRIDGE-BOUND


Digbeth Dining Club continues its geographical identity crisis this weekend, with its first appearance in Longbridge. From 11am until 6pm on Saturday, there'll be ten traders, including Kebabylon, Canoodle and the indecently sweet goodness of Bournville Waffle Company. Craft beer will also be in almost rudely healthy supply. By the train station.

S-TOWN IN B-TOWN


A bit like making history in Dubai,
S-Town's gone down in the historical footnotes of podcasting, being downloaded 40 million whole times in its first month of release. The seven episodes of small town Alabama began to form when co-creator and eventual host, Brian Reed, was asked to investigate an alleged murder, resulting three years later in a podcast which elevates audio storytelling into the lofty realms of literature. Through trailer parks, a maze, a hospital and a courtroom, a tale emerges which ultimately leaves more questions unanswered than when old Snobs became new Snobs. Ask those questions on October 2 at the Town Hall, where Brian Reed will be speaking. Tickets are £28.

FILM: ATOMIC BLONDE


Atomic Blonde comes from one half of the team that made John Wick – modern classic, cinematic touchstone and best representation of what would happen if anyone touched our dogs. Charlize Theron stars as essentially Jane Wick, blasting through countless goons in 1989 Berlin as she searches for – yes! – some microfilm. Theron kicks ass, John Wick’s slick photography is carried over, and there’s a cracking soundtrack – so what's the plot? You won’t care as Charlize uses everything from a stiletto to a firehose to take out her enemies, gets into a superb car chase and the best long-take since Children of Men. Oh and she bursts through a screen showing, of all things, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Good gravy this one. Times
Venue: The Canal House, 12 Bridge Street, B1 2JR; website
Choice: Mr Henshall's Memoir (£8.75) Chooser: Bar man

Technically, The Canal House doesn't open until Monday. But arriving in a boat from "the sea" as our editor called it, we've had a right proper nosey around the big, light-filled addition to Gas Street Basin. And it was the drinks that sang sweet songs whilst giving us a knowing embrace — which is rather good news when you think about the sun-downer potential of the wide canal-side terrace. We're a bit specific when it comes to picking out cocktails but the young team got it 107% right with Mr Henshall's Memoir — comprising old school genever, all spice liqueur and Campari. The short sharp pretty is stirred down, then oak-smoked and served over ice and a candied orange, and was the drink all our number wanted to adopt in a fully legal way. A further out-and-out refresher to add to your "to drink" list is the Budvar Tank Beer, which joyfully, is actually stashed in tanks on the first floor, from the Budvar cellars in Czech Republic. Here's an educational document what we found that explains it all. Menus

SLUMDOG BRILLIANT-AIRE


It's been too long since you last saw Slumdog Millionaire. Ever helpful, Rum Runner Yard at Regency Wharf is here to rectify that situation, with an open air screening on Friday, August 18. Deckchairs, blankets and Indiany street food are included in your £15 ticket from The Spice Is Right lot — they're big up into doing delicious tikka things with chicken and are bringing their pakora style herbie fries. Veggie and vegan feasting also available.

SWEET STREETS


Get 16 pages of good looking in the form of a street photography zine (a lot like a magazine but called a zine so superior). The first collection from snapper Richard PJ Lambert, the pictures were shot in Brum, printed in Some Cities' dark room and the limited edition zine made using a risograph machine by that lovely Rope Press lot. Which makes the whole thing right proper local. For £3, get your mitsies on one of 36 remaining copies (we have number 14).
It's a food special. Because you lovely lot are frankly obsessed:
  • What's better than having one Fumo in Brum? Having two
  • Simpsons have done beauteous things with their cookery school. There's very limited availability but cook, eat and drink Champagne on Saturdays. It's £150 a spot
  • Andy Waters' new menu launched this week and it looks funky with a capital FUNK
  • Segovian suckling pig is a thing that is happening at El Borracho De Oro on August 23. Our Mum recently ate the good stuff in Segovia and she totally thinks you should go. Sixty-five smackers 
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"Money and women — the reasons to make the most mistakes in life. It looks like you are mixed up in both." - Police Inspector, Slumdog Millionaire
WORDS: James GillKaty Drohan, Andrew Lowry
HAND MODELLING: Tom Cullen (Deliveroo feature)


I Choose Birmingham, 2 St Philips Place, Birmingham, B3 2RB​

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