Adam Preston’s day job working at The Trafalgar Way, a heritage organisation where he does content creation – and occasionally dresses up as a 19th Century naval officer to do ‘Horrible History’ style shows – is a bit of a contrast in terms of what he likes to get up to in his spare time: “I write comic novels and put on stand-up shows under the banner of my company Village Idiot Comedy,” he explains.
Ten years ago Adam started performing stand-up on London’s open mic scene. “Typically you would get ten comics doing five minute sets, so I saw thousands of acts. I jotted down the names of good ones and started running my own nights. Some of the comics who came are now pretty famous – people like James Acaster and Sarah Pascoe.”
When he moved back to the local area word got out that Adam knew more than just a thing or two about stand-up. “I was asked to help organise a fundraiser for The Weekend@Brenchley event and that went so well we did another sell-out show the following year – with over three hundred people in a marquee.”
Adam launched Village Idiot Comedy a short while later and now regularly does shows in East Peckham and Pembury as well as the original Brenchley show for which he gives 10% of the profit to charity. Adam’s also started organising the odd comedy corporate gig too all under the Village Idiot umbrella in local village halls.
“Village halls are these under-used gems of venues and when you bring professional entertainment to them everything comes together,” says Adam. “With the Village Idiot bar, clever lighting, a full house, a brilliant comic – it soon starts to feel like the best little comedy club on earth.
“I am very lucky to have a brilliant technician called Martin Eyre as professional sound and lighting are essential for a successful show. I also like doing the marquee events and next September we are going to really push the boat out in Brenchley – it’s going to be a proper pop-up comedy club. I’m also in talks with The Forum at the moment about doing something in late April 2020.”
The most important thing, Adam adds, is the quality of the acts: “A good stand-up invites you into a unique comic universe. Presence, timing, the ability to improvise – all of these things come from lots of live performance. The acts I get are often just about to break through. At one of my first local shows we had Robert White who then came second on Britain’s Got Talent. Last year in Matfield we had Jessica Fostekew who has just done Live at the Apollo and is starting to appear on TV panel shows.”
He goes on to say that as his need for acts expands Adam tends to get the comics to tell him which acts they love. “Trevor Loch recommended Joey Page for my last Brenchley show and he blew the roof off! I had a cancellation for the recent Pembury show and Tom Ward stepped in – and he was absolutely amazing.”
So what’s in store for his December 6 show in East Peckham? “We’ve got the hilarious Gareth Richards who I knew on the open mic scene. He is now well established and tours with Frank Skinner, but we’ve also got an emerging talent called Tom Mayhew who is about to do a solo show at the Soho Theatre in London.”
For all of his Village Idiot shows Adam has four acts and says he likes to ‘aim for variety’. “It is a great formula for a night out because for most of the audience it is practically on their own doorstep. I get great feedback after the shows – usually ‘please come back!’
“I am looking into doing a Tunbridge Wells Comedy Festival – my dream booking would be someone like Micky Flanagan. He’d sell all the tickets in a few minutes!”
Tickets for the East Peckham show on the 6th December are available at villageidiot comedy.com. Adam’s comic novel The Peppered Moth is available at amazon.co.uk