All photos: Anthony Upton
“AUSTRIAAA – like a friendly Germany / AUSTRIAAA – like a cheap Switzerland / AUSTRIAAA – like a safe Hungary….”
As Andrew Maxwell’s alternative take on the Austrian national anthem fills the room on the last night of the Altitude Comedy Festival, it’s time to reflect on another epic week in Mayrhofen.
The host nation may have been the same as last year, meaning the same easy targets for the assembled professional funnymen to aim at (Hitler; Fritzl; the phenomenon of the ‘toilet shelf’), but plenty was different this time around – not least what was happening up the mountain. No bashing through slush in a T-shirt this year, as a nicely-timed cold snap and snowfall meant in ideal conditions over both sides of the resort. The crew at the Penken Park were on the case all week, keeping things immaculate despite the dumps. A lot of parks claim to have “something for everyone”, but this is one of the few that actually live up to it. Even if all you want to do is watch, the Sunjet chair offered cracking views of our own Billy Morgan double-corking his way down the pro kicker line.
The good days just got better off the hill, with top entertainment from early evening right through to 2am. The ’Piste Takers Inn’ saw comedians ranging from the breakthrough (Paul Myrehaug, Kai Humphries) to the stellar (John Bishop, Eddie Izzard) performing in front of only a couple of hundred punters. When faced with the hellish ‘Set List’ (where random topics are thrown up on screen), it doesn’t matter how many DVDS you’ve sold – there’s nowhere to hide when you’re tasked with making funnies out of ‘Foetal Alcohol Promotion’, ‘My Honest Review of the Koran’ and ‘Geordicide’. The gala shows at the Europahaus offered a full three hours of laughs per night ranging from Phill Jupitus’ poems about Jeremy Clarkson having sex with a car, to festival favourite Terry Alderton amusing and terrifying audiences in equal measure.
Things took a different spin on the Wednesday; while German comic Michael Mittermeier performed a sell-out show at the Europahaus in his native tongue, dope dealer-turned-raconteur Howard Marks amused the Anglophones in the Arena club. His excellent show culminated in a Q&A, where a special mention must go out to the two audience members who, between them, asked the same question three times – what had they been smoking….?
With so much on it’s a fairly intense week, highlighted by Bishop reduced to sitting through his act (“I make no apologies for the barstool – I’ve been here 4 days and I’m fucked”), but we’d happily put up with the combination of aching legs and split sides again next year. See you at Altitude 2014….
Highlights of Altitude 2013 will be on ITV tonight (Thursday 3rd April) at 11.20pm. See below for more pics from Anthony Upton