This year's Leicester Comedy Festival generated £1.78m towards the city's economy, a report has found.
The research by De Montfort University (DMU) aimed to explore the financial and social impact of the annual event on local residents and businesses.
Geoff Rowe, who founded it 18 years ago, said he was "really pleased".
Researchers surveyed almost 1,000 people during the 17-day event, including audience members, festival organisers and business leaders.
During the past three years, festivalgoers are estimated to have spent £2m outside of ticket sales during the festival period.
Christopher Maughan, DMU's principle lecturer in arts and festivals management, said the figures suggested Leicester audiences were happy to pay for a night out, despite other financial pressures.
"This has occurred at a time of the harshest recession this country has experienced in decades and indicates that the festival is recession-proof," he said.
More than 40,000 tickets were sold for the 346 shows which took place in venues across the city during February - an increase of 12% on 2010.
Martin Peters, from Leicestershire Promotions, which commissioned the research, said they would use the data to promote the festival to investors and visitors.
"We'll continue to work with [the festival] team to look at new and innovative ways to bring more and more people into Leicester, staying longer, so we can increase those figures further," he said.
The report also discusses how other festivals in the city and county could be developed to further benefit residents, visitors and businesses.