Colston Hall, Bristol

Aardman Slapstick Awards

June 2017

An Ab Fab chat with famous comedy duo


National treasures Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders got top billing when they received the prestigious Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award for their contribution to comedy this week.

Hosted by Bristol based Slapstick Festival in collaboration with Aardman Animations, at the Colston Hall on Thursday, June 22, was night was packed with star studded appearances, exclusive anecdotes and hilarious clips as Bake Off’s Mel Giedroyc led the comedy duo in conversation. 

French and Saunders need little introduction.

They've been making us laugh for more than three decades and continue to appeal to both the old and young thanks to their witty skits, hilarious impressions and appearances on chat shows, comedy panels and charitable events like Comic Relief.

As well as starring in pioneering television programmes like Girls On Top and The Comic Strip Presents, they've both enjoyed successful solo projects with The Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous, which continue to be enjoyed to this day.

For this reason, it was a true pleasure watching the pair talk about their careers and recall some of their fondest memories from the past 30 years. 

The evening began with a reflection of their flat-sharing days in the 1970s when they both attended the Central School of Speech and Drama.

With the sole aim of having a good laugh, they recalled regularly turning off their television sets, creating home-made stages and performing mini-skits to family and friends in their living room. 

They went on to discuss their antics on London’s The Comic Strip during the 1980s which is when the pair began to gain enormous popularity among the public.

Clips from their joint ventures including Psychoville and Happy Families were played to the audience, while Dawn and Jennifer caused eruptions of laughter as they recalled on-set goofs and some slightly unfortunate hairstyles. 

A lovely touch was the audience Q&A which took place straight after the interval.

Dawn and Jennifer took the time to answer a series of questions from fans, including what they most admired in each other, what advice they'd give to someone just starting out in comedy, and whether they knew the meaning of the word ‘gunt’.

(For those of you that don't know, it's that rather unappealing bit of flab between a woman's gut and… well… a word we really can't say).

Friends weren't far away, with recorded messages from Ruby Wax, Joanna Lumley, Adrian Edmondson and many more played on the large screen behind them.

There was also a surprise appearance from comedy icon Dame June Whitfield who paid tribute to the pair in person having herself known and worked with them for many years.

As the show drew to a close, Slapstick Festival director Chris Daniels handed Dawn and Jennifer their award and we were treated to an impromptu, rather energetic skit which resulted in both comedians rolling around on the stage floor to a standing ovation – the perfect way to end a highly entertaining evening. 

Emma Rowlands

A night with slappers

PREVIEW: For one night only, the Aardman Slapstick Awards present a unique opportunity to see comedy legends Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders in conversation in Bristol as they receive the Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award.

Celebrating 30 years since the launch of their award winning TV Series French & Saunders 1987-2007 this is a rare chance to see the pair together on stage as they discuss their legendary careers with presenter, actor and comedian Mel Giedroyc.

Following this, they’ll be presented with the prestigious award which is an accolade to their phenomenal achievement as multi-award-winning writer/performers who not only pioneered a new wave of comedy, but influenced whole generations of artists that followed.

As well as promising exclusive onscreen extracts of their work, this standout comedy award evening will feature more than its fair share of surprises, messages and special guests. 

So, don’t miss out on this one-off opportuning with a chance to get up close and personal with two of the UK’s funniest and best loved entertainers.

Please note: This is not a live French & Saunders show, but a very special in conversation event reflecting on the life and career of two legends of British comedy.

Tickets £20-£75 with VIP packages for Thursday, June 20, at 7.30pm by calling the box office on 0117 203 4040

Dawn French

Dawn French is a British comedian actress and writer. She initially rose to prominence as a comedian on The Comic Strip Presents in 1982. Along with comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, she wrote and starred in cutting edge sketch show ‘French and Saunders’ from 1987 until 2007. She has appeared in numerous films and television shows, her best known character being Geraldine Granger in the long-running Richard Curtis sitcom The Vicar Of Dibley. She published best selling autobiography Dear Fatty in 2008, and she has been nominated for seven British Academy Television Awards and also won a BAFTA Fellowship with Jennifer Saunders.

Jennifer Saunders

Jennifer Saunders is a British comedian, screenwriter, and actress. She first found widespread attention in the 1980s when she became a member of The Comic Strip after graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. With her comedy partner Dawn French, she wrote and starred in their eponymous sketch show French And Saunders, for which she and French received a BAFTA fellowship in 2009. She received worldwide acclaim through the early to mid-1990s for writing and playing the lead role of Edina Monsoon in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. She has won three BAFTAs iincluding the BAFTA Fellowship, an International Emmy Award, a British Comedy Award, a Rose d’Or Light Entertainment Festival Award, two Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards, and a People’s Choice Award.

Mel Giedroyc

Mel Giedroyc  is an English presenter, actress and comedian, best known for her comedy work with Sue Perkins, who she met while studying at Cambridge as they were both members of Footlights. Together, they have hosted a number of successful programmes including BBC’s ‘The Great British Bake Off’, Channel 4’s ‘Light Lunch’ and ITV chat show ‘Mel and Sue’. Recently, she began presenting BBC show ‘Let It Shine’.

Slapstick Festival

Started in 2005, Slapstick Festival is a Bristol-based comedy event from Bristol Silents. It features silent comedies with live musical accompaniment, as well as talks. In 2008 they teamed up with Aardman Animation and developed the Aardman/Slapstick Award; previous winners include Eric Sykes, Michael Palin and Pierre Etaix. Slapstick has quickly attracted a host of comedy legends, with Victoria Wood, Bill Oddie and June Whitfield gracing the festival with their presence.