Liverpool Comedy Festival returns

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Jack Dee will peform in Liverpool on Friday

The Liverpool Comedy Festival returns to the city for its 11th year this week with a star-studded line-up of comedians and amateur stand-up shows set to send audiences into fits of laughter.

In previous years, the event has brought top comedians like Peter Kay, Jimmy Carr and Dara O’Briain to Liverpool and this year will be no disappointment as comedians Jack Dee, Ross Noble, Sarah Millican and Liverpool’s own John Bishop take to the stage.

The festivities will begin on Thursday with BBC Three’s WitTank at the Kazimier and The Stand Out Young Comedian of the Year grand final at BBC radio Merseyside.

On Friday Jack Dee will perform at the Empire as part of his first UK tour in six years. When asked why he was returning to stand-up he joked: “I want to spend less time with my family.” Audiences can expect the same deadpan delivery whilst moaning about society, in particular teenagers.

“My take on it is that adolescence should really be regarded as a form of mental illness. Once you’ve accepted that, everything makes more sense,” he said.

Comedy fans will have the chance to attend amateur gigs too and could discover some up-and-coming talent like those who saw John Bishop at the festival in 2002 as a relatively unknown comedian.

The festival was launched in that year by The Comedy Trust to promote the city’s comic heritage and pedigree. The trust is a registered charity that aims to develop new comedy talent and to enrich people’s lives through humour.

Liverpool’s John Bishop will perform at the festival © JohnBishoponline

They run several community programmes including stand-out courses which mentor people in stand-up comedy. In the past, graduates of the stand-out courses have gone on to be on Britain’s Got Talent and work on television. The trust has also worked alongside Alder Hey Hospital and Liverpool Primary Care Trusts to help build confidence, provide distraction techniques and improve communication for patients through comedy.

Sam Avery, Director of The Comedy Trust, told JMU Journalism: “Lots of studies have shown that comedy can increase immune systems and release endorphins and we fully believe that. We’ve seen the first hand results of it.”

Avery, who is a former JMU student, explained why it’s important to include unknown comedians: “Effectively, it’s about making it as rich as you can make it. You can see the big names on TV and you can see acts you wouldn’t normally and there’s nothing like live comedy. Liverpool’s a got a rich history of comedy.”

Rawhide comedy club, which runs weekly open mic nights at Baa Bar will be hosting two nights, perhaps offering the best and the worst of amateur stand-up that Liverpool has to offer. Avery will be presenting and performing at them both.

He said: “I like it when acts get up and there are no preconceptions. Sometimes people can play it safe with comedy but people get up and they’re not safe to be on the streets! They just waffle on. The worst of it is loads of comedians trying to die. We did it last year and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Just comedians trying to be as crap as possible and the crowd booing and throwing stuff at you.”

The festival will run from 27th September to 7th October. A full events list of dates, prices and venues can be found here.


About Rachael Bentham, JMU Journalism