French Beaujolais Meets English Humour
The first bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau were gently mixed with some comedy, light music and Camembert cheese at the county ground on Thursday 17th November. This being the first day of the season for such a celebrated French wine, much loved around the world, particularly in its home country where corks were pulled in great anticipation of this popular event. Beaujolais is one of France’s most famous festivals, hence the tricolour flags adorned the tables and roof space of this flexible, functional corporate suite creating an ambiance in keeping with the occasion.
The Beaujolais wine takes its name from the historical Province of Beaujolais, the wine producing area to the north of Lyon in the region of Burgundy. Its popularity is underlined by an estimated 28 million bottles being produced, mostly shipped to America and some seven million bottles leave for Japan, where wine is increasingly becoming fashionable. The remaining cases seemed to end up on the twenty-two tables inside the county ground, as punters were eager to try this fresh grape known as a ‘Primeur’, which is a young wine, put on retailers’ shelves only six to eight weeks after the special Garnay grapes are harvested, all by hand. In the words of Michael Caine (not at the event this year) ‘Not a lot of people know that’!
Also, to get the wine into condition the makers use a special artisanal process, with extra yeasts which quickens the fermentation process. For most other wines this technique lasts for years. Hence wine connoisseurs and out right snobs won’t touch the stuff. Not being an expert, I was happy to try a glass, which seemed remarkably light compared to other wines. Good enough for me, glass recharged and onto the meal.
Brexit all forgotten, the head chef had come up with a French menu to please any one from the Dourdain and while tucking into our French onion soup we were entertained by the delightful voice and music of Hannah Renton, a young singer, songwriter making her way in the business.
All now fully laden with the seasonal grape, it was time for some laughs and who better to supply these than Tim Clark, Ian Moore and Patrick Monahan. Three comedians completely at home with a corporate audience. Tim Clark compered the show showing all the experience that has kept him at the top of the comedy circuit for over 25 years. His ability to draw in an audience, lay the scene and calm the gig for the other acts to follow is legendary. Ian Moore carried on from where he left off on last week’s event, with some cleverly crafted material on printers, computers and his most informed and now topical subject France. All who were seated could relate and appreciate what the guys were saying.
Patrick Monahan closed the show, normally used by some as a compere on such occasions with his ability to work audiences and apply cutting remarks without offense. This time he stepped up to the challenge to close in his usual way with referring to people from a distance and commenting on the movement of guests around the room which gave an instant reaction as looked completely unrehearsed and natural. Patrick is currently rehearsing just down the road in Worthing as he’s starring in their seasonal pantomime Peter Pan as Captain Hook. Don’t some comics ever grow up. The whole afternoon was summed up really well by corporate relations manager Tony Cottey ‘Great Event… The Comedians were top drawer’.
Images courtesy of photographer James Boardman
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.