Don’t Mock the Pasties !

Rachel Healy, in the Guardian, takes us inside UK’s most southwesterly county where a burgeoning standup scene thrives everywhere, from remote village halls and old bakeries to the cliffside Minack theatre. October 2020.

A cliff edge, an old bakery or the space next to the tea-hatch in a village hall aren’t standard spots for a comedy show. Unless you’re in Cornwall. In the UK’s most south-westerly county, there isn’t a single city-based commercial comedy scene, but a bubbling collection of shows in even the most remote villages.

One name stands out: “A lot of people in Cornwall will go: ‘Oh, you do comedy? Do you like Jethro?’” says comedian Harriet Dyer, who grew up in Truro. Jethro, the local comic and former mine-worker who once made a pasty on the Generation Game, announced his retirement in February after 50 years of storytelling standup. With Jethro retired, focus can switch to the growing array of local talent.

Edward Rowe, from Roche in mid-Cornwall, “accidentally” became a comedian when, 11 years ago, the videos he posted online as the Kernow King started gaining fans. Kernow King offered fresh takes on the quirks of his home county, and when Rowe began live performances a year later, helped by Cornish comic Anna Keirle, his following ballooned.

“Ed sells out absolutely everything,” says standup Graham Wilkes, who also runs comedy nights in towns across Cornwall. Yet, rather than the traditional route of open mics and mixed bills, Rowe carved out his own circuit.

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