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Camden Fringe 2013

Wine, Ale and I

James Dowdeswell

Genre: Storytelling

Venue: The Camden Head


Low Down

 Stand-up comedian and actor James Dowdeswell (as seen on Ricky Gervais’ Extras and Russell Howard’s Good News) fills a happy hour with anecdotes, funny facts, and why he loves his ale and wine.


 James Dowdeswell does a good line in self-deprecation. With a likeable persona and a gift for storytelling and ad lib, this kind of subject matter is tailor-made for his special sort of talent.

 Dowdeswell tells us what’s it’s like to grow up in a West Country pub, what Bristol has taught him about beer, what he’s learnt from pub experiences in Wales to Ireland to Newcastle and back again, and why Pinot Noir is his tipple of choice. We’re also offered some colourfully eccentric facts about booze, a whole host of inspired accents and accurately-drawn people-impersonations, as well as some witty anecdotes from a family trip to Bordeaux on a wine-tasting holiday.

 This latest show from this stand-up comedian is a light-hearted look at the world we live in and how a healthy appreciation of wine and ale can make our experience of the world that much better. It’s a solid gig, from the enlightening tales of his youth through to his knack of pleasing and involving the audience. It’s a receptive audience, and he gets a lot of laughs from his brand of intelligent, observational comedy. An audience invitation to join the host-comedian in the pub downstairs after the show is a fitting one, as is the show’s setting – above a boozer.

 It’s a friendly hour of conversation about booze as well as being a lesson in how best to bond with complete strangers within the confines of a pub that’s far from home. Dowdeswell, in his own slightly awkward, half-embarrassed way, takes us on a tour of his travels and observations, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience.