New & emerging comedians from across the UK have been announced to take part in a series of prestigious comedy competitions and events at Leicester Comedy Festival 2018.  The comedians will take part in competitions including Silver Stand Up, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year, The UK Pun Championships or the new Circuit Breakers showcase set up following a crowd funding campaign. All the shows will take place as part of the 25th anniversary of Leicester Comedy Festival which takes place from 7-25 February 2018. Full details about the festival can be obtained by visiting

Almost 90 comedians from across the UK applied to take part in the shows. Comedians from Devon, Northern Ireland, Surrey and Sheffield submitted details, with over 80% coming from outside of London.

The Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition has taken place each February since 1995 and past winners have included Johnny Vegas, Josh Widdicombe, Romesh Ranganathan, Jo Enright and Kate Lucas. Entry is via nomination from a selected group of UK promoters and the winner will be chosen by an industry judging panel.  The comedians confirmed to perform in 2018 are:

Simon Lomas, Radu Isac, Martin Wratten, Helen Bauer, Catherine Bohart, Rosie Jones, Patrick Spicer & Jack Gleadow.

The Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition will take place on Saturday 24th February at The Y, Leicester.

The UK Pun Championships was set up by Leicester Comedy Festival in 2014 and is billed as a “celebration of the British pun”.  The show takes place in the round in a boxing ring and in 2018 the competition will be hosted by Jason Byrne.  The competitors are confirmed as:

Colin Leggo, Iain MacDonald, EL Baldiniho, Samantha Baines, Julian Lee, Tim Andrews, Adele Cliff & Robert Thomas.

The UK Pun Championships will take place at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, on Punday 12th February.

Circuit Breakers was launched in the summer of 2017 with a crowd funding campaign asking people to pledge money to support new and emerging comedians.  The showcase performances will take place, giving a platform for people who otherwise wouldn’t perform at the festival, and offering them professional support and advice.  All the comedians will attend a “meet the industry” lunch held during the festival where they will receive advice and support from producers and promoters.  The comedians selected to take part are:

Akin Omobitan, Kathryn Mather, Liam Bannigan, Regan MacNeil, Sian Davies & Stephen Harper.

The Circuit Breaker showcase performances will take place on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th February at PETER Pizzeria, Leicester.

The Silver Stand Up Competition has been running at the Leicester festival for the past 6 years and is exclusively for comedians aged over 55.  The competition is supported by established acts such as Alexei Sayle, Jasper Carrott and Arthur Smith and the 2018 competitors are confirmed as:

Nik Hill , Bruce Sidlo, Sally Firth, Sandra Hale, Jac Bevan, Debra Heighton, The Geri-Raptric, Fred Ferenczi, Kevin Hudson, Baldy, Sha Wylie, John Butler, Christine, Lois Bromfield, Bakshi Shemar & Pat O’Connor

The Silver Stand Up Competition, hosted by Mrs Barbara Nice, takes place on Thursday 22nd February at PETER Pizzeria, Leicester.

Director of Leicester Comedy Festival, Geoff Rowe, said “Leicester Comedy Festival has always been a place where new & emerging acts perform to develop their material and shows in front of hugely comedy savvy audiences.  Comedians also find the festival is a great place to get good publicity, get reviews for their shows, increase their social media following, have the potential to get “spotted” by the industry and also maybe win an award or 2… 

Over the past 25 years we have supported hundreds of new comedians, as well as exclusive and one-off shows from some of the biggest names in comedy.  We’re hugely proud of our commitment to new talent and our competitions, and Circuit Breakers showcase, will hopefully continue to provide a helping hand to comedians.  We’ve been inundated with applications from acts for all our competitions and showcases, and we are delighted that so many are from across the UK and not just London based acts.  The acts taking part are amongst the cream of the crop of British live comedy and help demonstrate the strength of the comedy circuit.”

Leicester Comedy Festival (7th – 25th February) features 836 events across 69 venues, performed by 613 comedians and performers; an increase of 8.5% on last year. The festival is the longest running comedy festival in the UK, having taken place every February since 1994, and now regularly attracts over 120,000 people to venues across Leicester and Leicestershire throughout the 19 days.

Chris is a Sparrow.

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