04 April 2010

Comedy at Altitude

For the third year in a row, the Altitude Festival in Méribel has given skiers something fun to do at the fag-end of a ski season. This comedy festival founded by Marcus Brigstocke and Andrew Maxwell is a brilliant idea, and I wish I'd been able to spend more than one evening there this year. I was able to catch the fantastically funny Micky Flanagan, the not so funny Nick Doody and the guaranteed laughs from the Improv Allstars.

The festival itself stretches over a week in late March when comedians, musicians and DJs descend (ascend?) on the French resort that will for ever be a corner of England. As the cream of the English middle classes have thoroughly colonised the resort, there's plenty of juicy material for the comedians to sink their teeth into. Here's a conversation we overheard outside a café: "I'd love to go skiing in America, but the trouble is Daddy doesn't own any resorts there."

The comedians didn't exactly make mincemeat of their audience – things were too good-natured for that – but there were plenty of jokes about the sort of kids who spend the season in Méribel not bothering to learn a word of French. Speaking of French, the festival is the only bilingual comedy festival in Europe, which means there is a smattering of French comedians. Then there's the Franglais Chaud show, in which I was told Al Murray was especially entertaining. In fact, so many aspects of the festival sounds so appealing: live music during après-ski, gigs in slopeside bars, jib sessions in the town square. (That last one I did see, and it was hilarious watching most of the participants falling off the rail.) It's definitely a hugely entertaining way to round off the season, and one of the few things that make you wish winter would never end.

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