Portraits no funny business for Matt Crockett

Reece Shearsmith portrait from '50 Comics, an exhibition of portrait photographs of comedians taken by Matt Crockett.

Reece Shearsmith portrait from '50 Comics, an exhibition of portrait photographs of comedians taken by Matt Crockett.

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UP to 35 of the UK’s top comedians will grace the Playhouse next month - but don’t expect them to exercise their mirth-making skills.

Each is the subject of a black and white photograph that features in 50 Comics, an exhibition of stunning portrait photographs taken by Matt Crockett.

Photographer Matt Crockett with Reece Shearsmith. Pic: Comp

Photographer Matt Crockett with Reece Shearsmith. Pic: Comp

The exhibition, in the Greenside Place venue’s pre-show bar, The Boards, runs from 1 August to 15 November, ahead of the publication of a book of the same name.

Each image captures one of the nation’s best loved funny men and women in a relaxed pose.

Crockett explains, “Black and white has always been a personal preference of mine. In this particular project I’ve been photographing comedians in studios as well as out in the open and I thought it would be a good way of keeping them uniform.

“Also, with black and white, there is a timeless quality that lets me keep the photos as simple as possible.”

Choosing his subjects was easy, reveals Crockett - he just asked his favourite comedians.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of comedy, particularly British comedy, so I have been selective about who I chose.

“Those I did choose, I chose because they are my heroes - there are a couple who aren’t in the project simply because they are not to my taste.”

There was never any doubt, however, that TV’s League of Gentlemen - Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Jeremy Dyson, would feature.

“League of Gentlemen have always been my heroes and I wanted to capture all four of them - I’ve done three of the four so far, and am shooting Jeremy Dyson next week.

“Actually, the shot on the flier with Reece Shearsmith is probably my favourite. The League of Gentlemen is my top show ever, and I shot him with some prop arms I bought from the movie Gremlins.

“He’s a huge horror movie fan so that bonded us quiet nicely. He just loved the shots.”

While comedy is a male dominated world, Crockett has been sure to shoot some of our funnier females too, including Fringe favourite Lucy Porter.

“I’ve been really aware of the fact that comedy is male dominated and tried to ensure that I cover all bases,” he says, revealing there is one comic who has so far eluded him.

“Everyone I asked has been really interested in doing it but the one that has got away so far is Russell Brand. I shot him for a GQ thing once before, but not for this. He would be the big one for me.”

50 Comics, The Playhouse, The Boards, 1 August-15 November, various times, free