Organiser Aidan Salter talks to Tim Hughes about putting on an evening of ‘nice, clean fun’ to fund a church building project

Comedy is no laughing matter for Aidan Salter.

A long-term lover of laughter, Woodstock man Aidan knows comedy is a serious business.

So when word went out that the town’s St Mary Magdalene Church needed to find money to fund a hefty improvement programme, he jumped at the chance to combine his passion for stand-up with his love of the town and its historic church, and launched Woodstock Comedy Club.

The club jumps into life this Friday with a set by Paul Kerensa – who made his name writing for Miranda and Not Going Out and radio comedies Dead Ringers, The News Huddlines, Lee Mack Show and The Now Show. He will be joined by Danny Ward and Rob Thomas.

Unlike grittier sessions, Woodstock Comedy Club is, like its host town, a polite affair, with acts geared towards family audiences, and free from bad language – what Aidan calls “nice, clean fun”.

But while profanity and risqué jokes will be frowned upon, the comedy promises to be first class, with a great line up of seasoned Edinburgh Festival performers.

“The church needs to update the building and wants to make it more suitable for use by the whole community for a variety of events and not just for services,” says Aidan, who moved to the town a year ago.

“The plans include removing steps so wheelchair users and those unsteady on their feet can get into the building easily, creating warmth and sorting out the lighting.”

He based the club on a similar venture run by his former church in Sussex.

He adds: “I was involved with a local comedy club when I lived in Worthing, so when we moved to Woodstock and learned that the church was fundraising to update the building I thought it would be a great way to raise money and bring something new to the community.

“I have always enjoyed stand-up comedy but it frustrates me when it gets too coarse as it limits who can enjoy the jokes. It’s brilliant to have comedians who write humour for such broad audiences that they can make people of every generation laugh.”

“I chose Paul Kerensa as the lead act of the inaugural show as I’ve seen him three times and his quirky sense of humour really made me laugh.

“If you have watched Miranda, Not Going Out or listened to Dead Ringers or The Now Show you may have unwittingly already laughed at his jokes as he has written for all of them.

“To choose other comedians I relied on comedians I know have performed well and cleanly.”

They include Danny, who is very funny indeed, and Rob – who is an up and coming comedian and just a good laugh.

With the nights drawing in an evening of comedy is a great way for the whole family to get out and spend time together.

“I look forward to seeing people laugh, have a great time and, as a by-product, raise funds for the church.

Oxford Mail:

  • Woodstock Comedy Club founder Aidan Salter

“If it’s successful we hope to do more shows and eventually my goal would be to support other local charities as well.”

Headliner Paul agrees. The London-based comedian, who has played festivals everywhere from Leicester to Montreal, says: “Comedy’s a great way of communicating, uplifting, being inclusive, and just making us all feel better about the world.

“Church and comedy may seem like an unusual partnership, but funny things happen all the time in church. I’ve done gigs from bearpits to pulpits, and these kinds of events are some of the nicest.

“They’re fun nights out with God-given joy!

“So a vicar, a priest and a Rabbi walk into a bar...”

Woodstock Comedy Festival launches on Friday at Marlborough School Woodstock. Doors 7.30pm for 8pm start. Tickets £10 each or £30 for a family of four, available from The Woodstock Bookshop 
or (booking fee applies).
Recommended age for children is 14+. Find out more on Facebook Woodstock Comedy Club page.