My Festival Life... Andrew Maxwell

'I've just dropped my family photo album down the shitter'

My Festival Life... Andrew Maxwell

Rosie Baker-Smith on 22 September 2011

Responsible for curating Austrian rib-tickler/breaker festival - Altitude Comedy Festival 2012 (which mixes a week-long ski holiday with some champion chortlers) - Andrew Maxwell has an A-list line up for 2012. With Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Al Murray and Ed Byrne to name a few, the talent combination is one he's been trying to create for years.

This is our fifth year and there are guys - in the case of Jimmy, whose a really good mate of mine - we just haven't been able to get out before because of his tour," he says. "In the case of Tim Minchin, Altitude often semi-clashes with the Melbourne Comedy Festival and Kevin Bridges couldn't come last year because he was recording.Maxwell explains: “The guys have always gone: 'Yeah of course, who doesn't want to spend a week skiing, drinking, eating and sunbathing?'

But it's not just the headline performers to look out for. Maxwell speaks highly of Canadian comedian and friend, Craig Campbell who also features on the 2012 bill. “He was a skier but I got him into snowboarding about 10 years ago and he just became so addicted to it. He's the most incredible storyteller and has amazing stories about the mountains.

Here Andrew Maxwell takes Virtual Festivals through his Festival Life...

The strangest thing that's happened to me at a festival was when I dropped my iPhone down a Portaloo. It was at the launch party of the Altitude Festival and stupidly I decided to make a phone call in a Portaloo where the phone dropped straight out of my hand. It was one of those toilets with a little flap and it didn't even fall. It bounced like one of those coins in a novelty charity box. Bounce, bounce, bounce, until it landed on the flap. And then after a split second: in.

I realised that I hadn't backed up my phone all summer and my entire summer of pictures of my family and kids were on it, and was like: 'I've just dropped my family fucking photo album down the shitter.' I went in after after it. I went in. I had to rinse it off and then stuck it in a bag of rice for three days and it worked! You better fucking believe I brought a new phone afterwards.

The best show I've ever seen was Parliament Funkadelic at Bestival in 2008. The best moment was seeing George Clinton, who has got to be about six foot six, he's huge, physically huge even though he's in his 70's. He’s wearing multi-coloured kaftans and multi-coloured dreads and he wears shades all the way through the gig.

The gig went on for three hours, just relentless funk for hours on end and the bass line just kept going through you. At one point, about two hours into the gig, he comes down and the music stops and he says: “Hold it, stop it all,” and there's silence. Everybody stops dancing and he takes off his shades and reveals the most bloodshot, red, puffy, purple around the edges, just fucked-est eyes you've ever seen in your life. He just lowers the shades and the whole crowd, there must have been about five or six thousand just watching this, gave an audible gasp. He just leant into the mic and said: “It would be ridiculous to suggest we have not done this before.

I've got a lot of happy memories with my kids at Glastonbury too, I take them every year. I've been about 10 times I'd say, the first time was when my boy was about one-year-old. It was great. He's been to Bestival a lot of times too. When he was two or two and a half, him and his best friend stage invaded while I was doing my gig. There was just these two little kids and they completely stole my gig - the little fuckers.

For my dream festival line-up, I would love to have at Stevie Wonder at Altitude. That would fill my life with joy. And maybe supporting Stevie Wonder, The Stokes. It would just be great, having The Strokes getting the crowd pumped up and before, maybe Madness to get everybody in the party mood. Madness to get you in the mood, The Strokes to get pumped up and then Stevie could just take us away on a cloud. But to be honest, I don't think we really need to offer anything else, Mother Nature's done that! Without disrespect to any comedy festivals, but no others are in the Alps. You wake up everyday, you look out on your balcony, and there's the mountains. There's the things that fucking Toblerone bars were built on! You get up, no matter how rough you feel from the night before, and that mountain air just takes you away.

Altitude Comedy Festival 2012 will take place from 26-31 March 2012 in Mayrhofen, Austria.

Holiday packages include accommodation and wristbands that give access to all of the comedy shows.

Click here for more information and Altitude Festival tickets.

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