Island Life by David Slack

Click here for jokes

Dying is easy, as the old saying goes, comedy is hard. You can't beat the experience of a roomful of people laughing at your words. There are few more mortifying than a pregnant pause or a deathly hush as you fail to connect. And let's not forget the low murmuring as you lose them altogether.

Speech writer's confession: I generally take the coward's way out - I throw in a little humour but give a straight talk. Just a few times in my life, I've had a room rolling; I am by no means sure I could achieve that routinely.

So how brave are the several dozen people who make up this year's roster for the comedy festival? Very. I've missed the festival altogether these last couple of years or so, but this time around I intend to make a pig of myself.

Penny Ashton kindly sprung us a couple of tickets for her MC Hot Pink in Busty Rhymes show and we had a fine time last night. I would not have thought you could construct a hip-hop lyric ending on the line: go feel up Charlotte Dawson's, but Penny did. I would not have thought you could pluck three unsuspecting people from an audience and discover some genuine hidden comic talent, but Penny did. And I would not have thought many women could get their bra cup to fit their head, but Penny did. She's on until Saturday and you should most definitely get yourself along there.

The dumbest thing you can try to do is figure out how comedy works. It's hard to resist poking and prodding at it, all the same. I do know this: the more confessional and candid you are, the better. Sharing your failures and your shortcomings, your anxieties and your frustrations - as long as you do it with no sense of self-pity - is a very good idea. It helps if you can share your own amusement at your various personal disasters.

MC Hot Pink runs a very good line in this. She's very candid, and very brave. She makes it look almost effortless, and that is one hell of an illusion to pull off. Once upon a time, we had scarcely an entertainer in the country who could manage that. Now there are dozens of them.

Of course they're all in it for the money. Radar was there last night and he was explaining to me how all of them are rolling in it.

As if. What he actually told me was that it's a bloody good thing when you stop on the way out and buy the books and the CDs and the posters. They'll even happily autograph a T shirt for you when it helps to shift the merchandise. Dig deep. These guys deserve it.