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Leicester Comedy Festival
Leicester Comedy Festival 2009
Leicester Comedy Festival 2009
Leicester once again became laughter central with the city's annual comedy festival. Find out how the event went down from Festival Director Geoff Rowe and hear all our comedian interviews.
At the beginning of February Leicester Comedy Festival returned for its 16th year with a packed programme of the finest comedy talent around.
Sixty venues across Leicestershire will hosted 230 events, over a period of 10 days - phew!
Before the festival Director Geoff Rowe said, "Every year thousands of local people are be joined by visitors from across the UK as Leicester becomes the comedy capital of the UK.
"One of the things that I am really pleased about with the festival is that it's a real combination of big names and new and developing acts coming along and trying things out."
Listen: Was 2009 a Comedy Success?
Leicester Comedy Festival had a little bit more to battle against this year in getting bums on seats.
Not only is their a credit crunch on which may mean people would be less willing to part with cash for tickets, but there was also the snowy weather to tackle.
Despite these challenges Festival Director is confident that it was a successful year, with a huge number of sell-out shows across the county.
BBC Leicester's Martin Ballard spoke to Geoff about this year, and the future...
Being the busy man he is Geoff only managed to grab a couple of shows all the way through, one of which was Milton Jones - the first comic to perform in Leicester Cathedral.
15 years on and still going strong...
Instead his highlights are based on the popularity of the festival, such as how much media coverage it received!
The addition of the Edinburgh-famous Gilded Balloon at the City Rooms was deemed encouraging for it's first year, with Geoff believing it acted as a central hub for audiences and comics alike.
"There were lots of new venues - it was really encouraging to see audiences responded positively to new elements of the festival.
"That has to continue. We're not going to go back to the days when we had 20 venues and 50 shows in a week. It's got to continue to develop and grow."
Work has already started on Leicester Comedy Festival 2010 and 2011, but Geoff as ever is keeping his cards close to his chest and revealing nothing about potential headliners.
He would only mention that the Gilded Balloon is highly likely to become a regular feature and that they hoped to add the new digital media centre Phoenix Square.
Geoff is happy with how far Leicester Comedy Festival has come and is certain that they will continue to build on its success:
"It does seem now that we are part of Leicester and we are part of the comedy scene, if not across the UK then perhaps internationally, and that's great. That was one of our original aims really."
Listen: Interview with Gareth Richards
Self-effacing comic songwriter Gareth Richards was a Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year finalist last year.
Gareth gave BBC Radio Leicester's Chris Baxter a lesson in how play the Omnichord and shared one of his bittersweet compositions...
He grew up in Houghton-on-the-Hill, and performs his songs on an instrument that came to the fore in the 1980's.
The 'Omnichord' is as much a part of 80's social history as the Sinclair C5 and Space Invaders.
Listen: Interview with Ivan Brackenbury
Ivan Brackenbury is the creation of Tom Binns, a former breakfast radio host on London's XFM.
He is currently Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Hospital radio's flagship presenter.
Ivan talks to BBC Leicester's Pete Wardman about his new material and to show of his local radio knowledge...
Ivan is making his second appearance at this year's festival.
Binns won the Jongleurs new act of the year, piloted his own chat show on Five called Tom Binns Munchies, and was one of the presenters on Channel 4 breakfast show RI:SE.
He resurrected Brackenbury for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007, where he was nominated for the if.comedy prize for the best show.
He is now become a regular fixture on the live comedy circuit.
Listen: Interview with Alex Horne
What do you do if your dad has an obsessive hobby and you really like to spend more time with him, but he's always out entertaining his obsession?
You join in and that's exactly what Alex Horne decided to do!
Alex Horne spoke to BBC Leicester's Chris Baxter about his work and passion...
Alex apparently took up bird-watching against his will!
His new hobby took him all over the world and started a new competitive streak between father and son, but also cemented their relationship.
It's also gave Alex great material for his show 'Birdwatching' at the Leicester Comedy Festival!
Listen: Interview with Craig Hill
Outrageously camp Scottish comedian Craig Hill has been back in Leicester for the Comedy Festival.
Don't expect tartan with Craig - he always wears a leather kilt!
He's commonly described as a Scottish Graham Norton, but even more riske!
He's been talking to BBC Radio Leicester's Chris Baxter, or should I say taking over Chris' show.
Listen: Rupal Rajani's Stand-up debut
BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani decided to join in comedic action with her debut.
She did her stand-up routine at BBC Leicester's Open Centre.
On hand were comedians Lynne Parker, Susie Bennet and Jo Fagon to judge her performance.
Rupal based her routine on herself, her husband and her life.
She started off by ending general racial stereotypes:
"I'm not a typical Asian woman. In my culture you're expected to learn how to cook and clean , so when you get married off, the husband can come home after a days work and you've got his dinner on the table- fresh chapatti's , a nice curry, rice, and the glass of red wine sorted.
"Whilst you then finish the cleaning he's there with his feet up watching the latest edition of the news!
"That's not me."
"He got a lot less than he bargained for. He's a lovely man. I wouldn't have married him otherwise, but he is a bit naive, thinking all Asian women are that way inclined.
"He's white, 5"11 and skinny. He's not a big eater, but when we got together he thought he'd landed on his feet, he thought he'd get a home cooked meal when he got home every night, instead he got me.
"You see this is where the Asian way of arranged marriages works well, where before you get married one of the first questions a boy asks a girl is can you cook?
"The basis of a marriage rests on that one question.
"But in our case he didn't ask and I didn't say. So there you go for the last three and half year's he lost more weight."
Rupal has no more plans for future comedy performances.
Listen: Interview with Marcus Brigstocke
Marcus Brigstocke will be appearing at this year's festival with three fellow comedians in a unique live version of the successful BBC television show 'The Late Edition'.
BBC Leicester's Chris Highton chatted to Marcus ahead of his appearance at Leicester Comedy Festival...
Performing on Valentine's Day Marcus jokingly says the group plan to appeal to a forgotten audience:
"For people who are either in relationships that are breaking down, or they're very lonely, or on their own, or really have no idea of romance - we're providing the ideal place to come."
The hour of comedy will be based on what is in that days new - with issues of both worldwide and local importance:
"It's so fun because the audience can see you're working on you're feet - you just get what's given. It's really good fun!"
So keep a look out for Marcus in Leicester this year; apparently he'll be easy to spot - he looks like a supply teacher:
"I'm sort of a bit nerdy looking. I've got a large head, slightly messy hair, glasses with usually a corduroy suit. I'm exactly the sort of person that would end up with a lot on the gob on their way home."
Marcus will be appearing with Andre Vincent, Carrie Quinlan and Fred McCaulay in their show 'The Early Edition' at Curve Theatre on Saturday 14 February at 14:15.
Listen: Interview with Jon Richardson
After winning last year's Chortle Breakthrough Act Award and supporting Alan Carr on a 60 day tour, Jon Richardson returns to Leicester with his second solo show.
BBC Leicester's Ed Stagg spoke to Jon about his forthcoming gig...
"I always think if you've got the chance to say something you might as well try and say something that's going to make someone laugh, but then I think being funny in conversation is different from being a comedian - some comedians are pretty dull."
Jon believes that negative reviews, as long as they're constructive, can be very beneficial to his act as they result in him reconsidering how funny bits of his show are.
Now he is a regular on the comedy scene Jon likes to change his material round to keep his gigs fresh and different.
Listen: Interview with Rosie Wilby
Rosie Wilby will be back at Leicester Comedy Festival with her mock lecture based around science and memory.
One of Rosie's comedian friends is constantly worried about forgetting his set, but she is fascinated about the amount of information we can store if we go about it in the right way.
BBC Leicester's Chris Baxter spoke to Rosie Wilby about remembering and getting laughs...
"I do mix the science stuff with some silly, spoofy stuff as well. I'm kind of a bit of science teacher that just wants to talk about herself, and her own private life, and inappropriate sexual history."
Science has been quite a part of Rosie's life in the past - her parents had ideas of her teaching it and she did a degree in electronics at university:
"'[I] found that really dull I have to confess, so have gone in quite a different direction since those days."
Rosie was a musician for a number of years before entering into comedy, and in the past played a gig at The Musician in Leicester as part of national tour and performed a live acoustic session in the BBC Leicester studios.
As she felt her songs were a little on the depressing side she would chat and joke between tunes - and people seemed to enjoy it, leading to her stand-up career!
So it seems she's a women of quite a few trades, "I think all these things combine well, and one thing leads to another."
Listen: Interview with Daniel Sloss and Sean Grant
At only 18 Daniel Sloss has already reached the finals of a prestigious national comedy competition, is a regular writer for Frankie Boyle on Mock The Week, and has performed two seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe.
After just a few months as a stand-up Sean Grant beat off much more experienced rivals to take top spot at the coveted Scottish Comedian of the Year Award 2007.
Chris Baxter spoke down the line to Sean in Glasgow and Daniel in Edinburgh...
It's perhaps almost destiny that Daniel has ended up where he has:
"I have no qualifications really so it's the only option I had. It was either work in McDonald's or make people laugh. I'm not going to lie to you, I don't like McDonalds."
"When I started when I was 17, I couldn't buy a girl a drink after a good gig. The best thing I had was to offer her a fruit juice. Which isn't really the same thing."
Unlike Daniel, Sean started found his stand-up calling a little later in life:
"My friend asked me to be best man at his wedding and I couldn't really get out of that, so I had to get up and speak in front of people - and I really enjoyed it."
Listen: Interview with Mark Watson
Anglo-welsh comedian Mark Watson is bringing his hyperactive comedy routine to the Y-Theatre during the Leicester Comedy Festival.
Now a regular on such TV comedy shows as Mock the Week and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mark loves talking about himself and the odd things that seem to happen to him all the time.
He's been talking to BBC Leicester's Chris Baxter...
"I talk very fast. My brain is a bit of a mess really... People are lucky if they hear a complete sentence all night."
Mark says he is something of a cynic but is trying to be more optimistic at present. "It's better to be optimistic than pessimistic morally," he says. Ranting at the world doesn't get you far.
"The show is about memories and regrets. I've got very good long term memory and in a sense the show is about trying to get rid of mental clutter. It's very personal show"
Listen: Interview with Hans Teeuwen
The critically acclaimed Dutch comic Hans Teeuwen will be bringing his uniquely surreal cabaret act to this year's festival.
BBC Leicester's Chris Baxter spoke to Hans about British stand-up, accents and Frank Sinatra...
Now a popular stand-up on the British comedy circuit, Hans first kick-started his career over here at Edinburgh Festival two years ago.
The transition between countries has not been too difficult:
"Everybody speaks good English in Holland as we watch television all the time and 99 percent are English shows and films."
Much of Hans comedy borrows from traditional British comedy, "I don't there's such a thing as a typical Dutch humour."
Back home in Holland he is also a serious singer with a Jazz band, a talent that lends itself to his show:
"It's about madness and despair - those are my themes. After 12 years of being on stage I've found out what my themes are!"
Stephen K Amos
Listen: Interview with Stephen K Amos
Stephen K Amos is a popular comedian who performs all over the world - his Edinburgh Festival shows selling out year after year.
BBC Leicester's Chris Baxter spoke to Stephen about his life, comedy and upcoming appearances in Leicestershire...
The charm and suave English comic is an expert at accents and is known to carry this across into every day life - a habit which can sometime backfire:
"I was in America, pretending to be American when this other American asked me directions to somewhere and I couldn't give him directions!
"I had to come clean and say, 'Actually I'm not from here' And he again looked at me like I was a mad person."
Although Stephen loves performing his comedy on stage and television, he admits he wouldn't say no to a bit of acting... in the right role of course:
"If the right script came along, yeah. I'm quite happy for example to go to Hollywood and do the remake of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - I don't mind doing that! Or I could play Will Smith's brother in some action movie."
Listen: Interview with Robin Ince
Robin Ince has a number of successful stand-up tours, including a stint supporting close friend Ricky Gervais, and is now a well known comic in England.
BBC Leicester's Chris Highton spoke to Robin about his upcoming appearance at the Leicester Comedy Festival...
The show itself is going to be just a simple little show about the Theory of Evolution, Big Bang theory, religious fundamentalism, US foreign policy, and the poo fairy.
"I do an enormous amount of reading. I've basically turned what was my whole life, my hobby... and turned that hopefully into entertainment."
He also takes things from the days newspapers - it really gets the adrenaline going if he's read something that really annoys him.
Robin was in Leicester last summer performing at Summer Sundae, a festival he has a lot of respect for, and now he's back this February:
"I've always enjoyed the Leicester Comedy Festival. It's always nice to come to Joe Orton's home town and wonder what happened on his brief walk from the station to his house.
"That only means anything to people who have read The Orton Diaries, but I'm sure everyone in Leicester has."
Listen: Interview with Rhod Gilbert
The multi award-winning Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert will be one of the star performers at this years Leicester Comedy Festival.
BBC Leicester's Chris Highton spoke to Rhod Gilbert about his upcoming show...
Rhod first got into comedy because of a nagging girlfriend - and it seems it's paid off!
Following a sell-out hit run at the Edinburgh Festival with extra dates added due to overwhelming public demand, Rhod will be critically acclaimed new show in Leicester.
'Rhod Gilbert and The Award-Winning Mince Pie' begins in a service station in the early hours of the morning - just the start of the madness that unravels.
Listen: The Gilded Balloon joins the Festival!
Edinburgh's renowned comedy venue the Gilded Balloon will be heading south for the very first time to take up residence at the 2009 Leicester Comedy Festival.
BBC Leicester's Chris Highton spoke to Geoff Rowe and Gilded Balloon's Artist Director Karen Koren about the exciting news...
Karen has worked closely with the Leicester Comedy Festival, judging the Leicester Comedian of the Year Competition for the last four years.
So she jumped at the chance to work with the festival with its top reputation as the longest running and largest comedy festival outside of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Geoff said, "It's probably the most exciting thing to happen to Leicester Comedy Festival in its 16 year history."
The Gilded Balloon were based at the City Rooms between 06-13 February.
A bit of comedic history
Leicester Comedy Festival was first held in 1994 making it the longest running comedy festival in the UK.
One of the very first performances was by a little known comedian, supported by a complete unknown - that's Harry Hill and Matt Lucas!
Since then the festival has pulled in a number of very funny people including Bill Bailey, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Johnny Vegas, Alan Carr, Roseanne Barr, Rory Bremner, Ross Noble and Dave Gorman.
Festival Director Geoff Rowe still feels it's important that the festival remains tied to Leicester's people, so alongside the shows there are a number of workshops and community events.
Last year the festival marked its 15th anniversary and MP Sir Peter Soulsby submitted what is believed to be the first early Day Motion to parliament that recognises a comedy festival's achievements.
He said, "Leicester Comedy Festival is a real gem in the city's crown."
Keep checking back to find out all the latest news, plus interviews with some of the festival comedy stars!
last updated: 19/02/2009 at 11:41
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