Harry Hill, Michael Palin, Milton Jones, Romesh Ranganathan, Sarah Millican & Johnny Vegas appear in Leicester Comedy Festival exhibition

Harry Hill, Michael Palin, Milton Jones, Romesh Ranganathan, Sarah Millican & Johnny Vegas appear in Leicester Comedy Festival exhibition
Jonny Vegas, 1997

An incredible number of comedians will be appearing in an exhibition, titled “A Funny City”, being held as part of the 25th birthday of Leicester Comedy Festival.

The exhibition features archive photographic and video footage gathered by the festival since 1994, in addition to memorabilia and materials donated from the general public.

Comedians such as Harry Hill, Matt Lucas, Sarah Millican and Michael Palin appear alongside local people talking about their memories of the festival.  The project and exhibition has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players and funding from Heritage Lottery Fund.

“A Funny City” will be displayed at Soft Touch Arts, 50 New Walk, Leicester LE1 6TF from Tuesday 13th February until Sunday 25th February 2018.

Since 1994, 5,285 shows have been presented at the festival, including some of the biggest names in comedy.  Many of these “big names” have become close friends of the festival and the exhibition features “good luck” messages filmed over the last 2 decades.

In addition there are also memories and archive material from acts who were up & coming but have now gone on to become household names.  The project has also curated and archived material about the history of comedy in Leicester since 1979 so also includes memories and materials from what are believed to be the first “alternative” comedy nights in the city, in addition to interviews with promoters of contemporary comedy clubs and nights.

Jo Brand, 2000

The exhibition and accompanying website has been produced by Big Difference Company in partnership with organisations including De Montfort University, Soft Touch Arts and Braunstone Brite Centre.

Funding for the exhibition was secured from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “It is fantastic that Leicester Comedy Festival 2018 will not just be featuring the best of today’s comedians, but also the rich history of comedy in Leicester over the last 25 years. So many of the UK’s best and most successful comics have performed in Leicester over the years, and we’re delighted that National Lottery players have been able to support this celebration.”

Jeremy Hardy, 1997

Festival founder and Director, Geoff Rowe, said: “The exhibition and website are really amazing and I’m extremely grateful to all those who have taken part and supported the project.  The last 25 years have been incredible and archiving some of our stuff is really important so it’ll be around, and publically available, forever.  We’ve worked with loads of people to put on the exhibition and website, including young people from across the City who have helped us hunt through storage boxes, scan items in and design the final exhibition.  There are some surprising clips and photos of comedians looking very young, in addition to a couple of clips of myself which make me feel really old…….”

Key promoters and individuals involved in the Leicester comedy scene have been involved in setting up the exhibition.  These include Kev F Sutherland who promoted The Monkhouse Comedy Club with Alan Seaman, which was based at The Magazine pub on Newarke Street, Leicester throughout the late 1980s.  The club included performances from The Sea Monster (later know as Jo Brand), Frank Skinner, Mark Lamarr, Henry Normal and Linda Smith.  Kev has donated a series of early promotional posters to the exhibition and worked closely with Anna Peavitt and Liz Soden who have managed the project for Big Difference Company.

Leicester Comedy Festival is the UK’s longest running, and largest, comedy festival having taken place each February since 1994. The festival is produced by registered charity Big Difference Company and is supported by a range of business partners, together with donations from comedians and individuals.  Leicester Comedy Festival 2018 runs from 7-25 February and includes over 840 events in 69 venues across the 19 days.  www.comedy-festival.co.uk

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