Fringe benefits for Ventnor as live performances receive acclaim

THE eleventh annual Ventnor Fringe festival splashed its usual spectrum of eclectic arts onto the town’s landscape last week.

Having first been held in 2010, the event was postponed last year as a result of the pandemic.

Among wide-ranging entertainment on offer, Billy Nomates delighted a sold-out Harbourside crowd on Tuesday night.

The singer’s oft deadpan and unapologetically anarchic eloquence stuck two fingers up at the conformity of routine, invoking the spirit of throwback rebellion-fuelled punk.

Billy NoMates. Credit Chris Drums.

Particular highlights were the explosive No and melodic Emergency Telephone – the latter providing floaty vocals as a juxtaposition to lyrics venomous in undertone.

A breathless, exciting performance from this wonderfully exciting musician received a fully deserved, prolonged ovation from an appreciative audience who braved strong gusts to ensure, in contrast to her name, Billy was on this evening embraced by hundreds of mates.

Comedian Lou Sanders, best known for her live stand-up performances and appearances on a slew on popular television shows such as Taskmaster and QI, performed in the Magpie Tent later on the same evening.

Another sell-out, a circa 45-minute developmental set exhibited the comic’s natural timing, with a predominantly youthful audience enjoying watching the process in action.

Mention of her dating life provided the apex for an unpredictable performance which seemed to fly by.

Comedian Lou Sanders. Photo credit: Ventnor Fringe.

Inevitably with such fresh material, there were occasional flat-liners, although these were heavily outweighed by the seasoned comic timing and spur of the moment observations synonymous with an intoxicating artist.

In particular, Sanders – no relation to former talk show host Larry despite rumours to the contrary – was at her prickly zenith when deviating from the (literal) script in conversation with members of the audience.

There was a further shot of high-profile comedy on Saturday evening, as Ali Woods dusted off his award-winning chops for a stand-up show inside Ventnor Arts Club.

The 2020 Hackney Empire New Act of the Year is a captivating storyteller and has the vital ingredient of being able to gradually pace narrative towards an explosive conclusion.

Woods was a little unfortunate the audience included a handful of children, meaning he was forced to tone down the set slightly and avoid a couple of jokes, and he would benefitted from a larger venue.

Comedian Ali Woods.

Nevertheless, his cocktail of self-deprecating anecdotes, pandemic observations and a thread surrounding mental illness made this arguably the most rewarding comedy performance of the entire week.

Ali told Kureen: “I loved performing at the Ventnor Fringe for the first time! The locals are wonderfully friendly even if they walk a bit slowly.

“I performed in two shows so I think I managed to perform to everyone in the town! I cannot wait to be back — lovely place, lovely people.”

The ratings…

Billy NoMates:
Lou Sanders:
Ali Woods:



Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

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