Leicester Comedy Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary

Leicester Comedy Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary

Jonathan Pie, Paul Chowdhry, The UK Pun Championships, The Gala Preview Show, Hotel D’Comedie, The Alternative Business Awards, The Secret Tour, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition, a National Lottery-funded exhibition focusing on comedy in Leicester, and a comedy school for young people are announced as shows and special events which will take place as part of the 25th anniversary of Leicester Comedy Festival from 7-25 February 2018.

The festival is the longest running comedy festival in the UK, having taken place every February since 1994, and the 2018 programme will feature a bumper programme including exclusive special events and the best comedians from across the UK.  The festival now regularly features over 800 shows in more than 65 venues across the 19 day period and attracts over 120,000 people.  The full programme will be announced when the official brochure is published in November but the festival has announced some of the special events today, alongside a crowd funding campaign to help support new and emerging comedians.  Full details available by visiting www.comedy-festival.co.uk

Leicester Comedy Festival has a long tradition of providing a platform for new and emerging comedians.  Projects such as Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition, UK Pun Championships and Silver Stand Up have helped launch the careers of numerous comedians across the last 25 years (including Johnny Vegas, Romesh Ranganathan, Rhod Gilbert, Jason Manford & Josh Widdicombe), and for 2018 the festival is launching Circuit Breakers, a development programme to help support comedians wanting to perform at the festival and break into the UK comedy scene.  Organisers are launching a crowd funding campaign to help raise funds to support the programme, which will fund a group of comedians to attend the festival, perform and meet agents, producers and members of the UK comedy industry.  The campaign is hoped to raise £10,000 and individuals who pledge will receive a range of rewards, such as discounted tickets, exclusive merchandise and invitations to events, in exchange for demonstrating their support for new talent.

Continuing its theme of being the Official Comedy Party, Leicester Comedy Festival will build on the success of the last 25 years and retain its mission to get the UK laughing again.  Geoff Rowe, founder and Director of the festival said: “every February since 1994 we have worked with some of the most talented comedians and promoters to produce the annual Leicester Comedy Festival.  It’s been a blast and we are now focusing on celebrating our 25th anniversary in style in February 2018.  Audiences have grown enormously since we started and we hope they will continue to support the festival, and specifically our Circuit Breakers project which will support new and emerging comedians.  Like many festivals and cultural organisations we are having to identify new income streams to enable us to sustain what we do and stay true to our core mission.  The festival is a tremendously supportive platform for comedians to perform at and try out new material, gain new fans and develop what they do.  We want the festival to continue with this so we are seeking support from comedy fans across the UK to enable us to do this.”

Tickets that go on sale today via the festival ticket office include Jonathan Pie, Paul Chowdhry, The UK Pun Championships, The Gala Preview Show, The Secret Tour, Hotel D’Comedie and Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition.  Tickets are available by visiting www.comedy-festival.co.uk

A Funny City exhibition, made possible by National Lottery players, will focus on the history of comedy in Leicester, including memories and memorabilia from members of the public and promoters including Alan Seaman, Kev F and Nicola Ward who ran the Leicester based comedy club ‘And Y Not’ at venues including The Y Theatre and Bar Gaudi. The exhibition, which will also feature archive material from the last 25 years of Leicester Comedy Festival, has been produced by Big Difference Company in partnership with organisations including De Montfort University and BBC Radio Leicester.  Funding for the exhibition was secured from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “It is fantastic that the 2018 Festival 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.”

Leicester Comedy Festival is produced by registered charity Big Difference Company and the charity has a commitment to supporting new talent but also engaging with community groups, local venues and promoters who all benefit from being involved in the annual event.  Many comedians have used the festival as a platform for developing their careers and recent feedback from audience members has shown that a significant proportion also value this part of the festival and want to support new talent.

“I owe it all to Leicester Comedy Festival.” Josh Widdicombe

“This has been a good festival over the years; I met my wife at this festival in 2005.  I was going to go home to bed but instead went to a party and I met my wife there.  She didn’t know she was my wife at the time but it became clear.  So for me, Leicester Comedy Festival is responsible for the birth of my children.” Stewart Lee

“I have a long standing relationship with Leicester Comedy Festival.  I did the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition in 1997 and I won.  It was brilliant.  It was the first thing I had to attach to my name.  I’ve been back since. It’s been here for years; it’s such a long standing festival.  There is a brilliant comedy audience at the festival; they want to come and appreciate great comedy.”  Johnny Vegas

“The festival is just wicked; it’s quality.  The audiences are really nice; they are so comedy savvy, the venues look after you, everyone loves coming here. The City is really supportive.”  Romesh Ranganathan

“I did my first ever hour long show at the festival and had a lovely time.  I use the festival as an opportunity to do work in progress shows, as a stepping stone to the Edinburgh Fringe or touring shows.” Sarah Millican

“My history with Leicester Comedy Festival goes back a very long way.  I’ve been coming for, it must be over 10 years.  It’s a lovely festival.” Count Arthur Strong

Leicester Comedy Festival has a tradition of creating unique events and competitions, from the long running Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition to the search for the best Silver Stand Up. 2018 will see the return of the UK Pun Championships, now in its fifth year, which takes the format of a ‘rap battle’ with competitors taking it in turns to pun about the topics picked at random on the night. Described by Chortle as “an annual comedy fixture” with “a pantomime atmosphere; hits are cheered, misses are groaned.”

  • The complete programme will be available from www.comedy-festival.co.uk
  • All ticket enquiries: 0116 456 6812
  • Twitter: @LeicsComedyFest

The 2018 festival is supported by a network of partners including De Montfort University and Leicester City Council, plus other local, regional and national organisations.

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