James Campbell – Just So Festival

Comedian James Campbell is turning to children to help him make sense of the ever-changing headlines

Hero image

“The voting age should be reduced to seven,” James Campbell says decisively. “This would make elections more fun and if politicians had to explain everything to seven year olds, the rest of us might stand a chance of understanding what is going on.”

From this central idea the children’s stand-up comic and author has devised his latest show That Was The Week For Kids – a funny look at the week’s news from the perspective of children. It will include special guests, the actual headlines and issues relevant to children, such as education, the environment, the near extinction of lollipop ladies, tooth fairies and “what the flumming bling is going on with everything lately”.

The show will be debuted at this month’s Just So family arts festival at Rode Hall in Cheshire. Campbell’s performance in the Forgotten Courtyard, in the atmospheric ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall, is one in a programme of workshops, provocations, debates and talks designed for inquisitive minds aged eight and over. Campbell’s show will be performed daily and followed by the chance to take part in a topical debate with the team from children’s magazine The Week Junior.

“This show is a new direction and I’m very much concentrating on what the audience is interested in. I suggest they might want to talk about education and the environment as they seem to be most relevant to kids but there is no agenda.”

Inspiration for each show comes from that week’s edition of The Week Junior. Children will be asked to pick their favourite articles and grown-up panellists will be grilled about the issues.

“Fortunately it is my job to know as little as possible about everything so I remain a kind of ignorant bridge between the audience and the experts,” says Campbell, whose books include the Boyface series, about a boy from a family of “stripemongers” – people skilled in the art of taking stripes off things and putting them on other things, and a new The Funny Life Of… series.

Campbell says he “sort of invented children’s stand-up by accident” while visiting schools as an author. Is it important that it’s more than fart jokes? “My comedy is generally about myself and the little things of life. I support farts come under both those categories but for some reason I don’t think I’ve ever written a fart joke.

“This current direction around the news is proving very interesting and is very much new territory for me. I suppose there aren’t many people doing what I do because it takes a lot of time to get good at it. I learned by spending all day in a different primary school each day for a number of years. I think I had probably spent at least 10,000 hours performing for kids before I got any good at it.”

Given the fast-moving world of news the show is based on, Campbell says there’s not a lot to prepare ahead of time.

“I always say that there’s a big difference between not knowing what you’re going to do and not knowing what you’re doing. With the help of the universe, I attempt the former.”

Just So festival is at Rode Hall, Cheshire, 17-19 Aug (justsofestival.org.uk). James Campbell’s The Funny Life Of Pets is out now (Bloomsbury, £6.99)

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to James Campbell – Just So Festival

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.