Every February, something wonderful happens to this city; a festival which brings warmth and laughter to Leicester as it hauls itself through winter. The Leicester Comedy Festival, a 25 year institution of great international comedians, is one of the finest, and longest-running, comedy festivals in the UK.
While the whole city comes together to laugh in February, there’s one group who have worked tirelessly for the last four years to make everyone aware that Leicester’s comedy scene doesn’t just rise up in February. The Leicester Fridge was started in 2014 when Big Difference (the team behind the Leicester Comedy Festival) asked a team of Leicester’s local comedians to put together a handful of shows to help draw attention to the wealth of Leicester’s local comedy talent during the Festival, as well as providing a spotlight on the scene throughout the rest of the year.
The Leicester Fridge is run by a small team of the Leicester comedy scene’s hardest working superheroes, including the award-winning comic and promoter Suzanne Rowland, multiple award-winning graphic designer Paul “Banksie” Banks (not that one) and LCF judge Dave Deverick; alongside some of Leicester’s most prolific comedians in the likes of Daniel Nicholas, Caroline Ryan, Lucy Thompson and Alex Hylton. We asked Banksie what it’s like to be a paprt of the Fridge, and he told us;
“It’s great to be part of the Fridge team because you get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from giving up your time (and sometimes money) to help others. If we raise the profile of the local scene, then hopefully more people come to the gigs, everyone performs better to a full crowd which produces a great atmosphere and everyone enjoys the shows more – we’re all winners (that phrase is copyright Ian Hall). Plus it’s loads of fun to have meetings, chat online and run gigs with people who share your passion for local comedy, so even though it’s sometimes hard work, it really doesn’t feel like it.”
For the fourth year running, the Fridge will promote six special shows to highlight the comedy scene. Things kick off with the Leicester Fridge Preview Show at The Cookie on January 20th; a madcap night featuring just about every comedian living in Leicester, hosted by former Leicester resident and future comedy superstar, Sarah Keyworth.
In the Festival proper, the Fridge presents their traditional shows, including The Battle for Leicester; a comedy Battle Royale, hosted by Leicester-local superstar Dan Wallbank and featuring 4 of the city’s regular comedy nights, competing for a much-coveted trophy made out of a chunk of the demolished New Walk Centre; A Question Of Snort, the comedy pub quiz where you get more points for being funny than you do for being right; and the LCF Liberty Award-winning Naked Comedy, the fundraising comedy extravaganza where a roster of local comedians perform 100% naked, throwing off the shackles of society to make fools of themselves in the name of charity and hilarity.
The team also present the award-nominated Mini Fridge; a morning of family-friendly comedy shenanigans during the half-term week which falls during the Festival. Spearheaded by the genius comedy duo of Lindsey Warnes Carroll and Ian Hall; the Mini Fridge brings interactive, nonsensical fun for all ages; including Lindsey & Ian’s Incredible Interactive Improv and The Kid’s Court, where kids get to put their parents and friends on trial for their crimes!
As for the rest of the shows from the Leicester scene; the Fridge team will be putting their backs into pushing each and every show into the public eye, through their social media outlets, a significant flyering campaign, and notes in the Festival brochure itself. But if you’re after specific recommendations from the core Fridge team, you may have trouble getting a straight answer out of Banksie:
“As usual there are tons of great shows from local acts in the 2018 festival. It would be cruel of me to pick anything out in particular, so I’ll just say check out our flyers (or our Facebook page) for full a list and look out for the little fridge icon in the brochure listings. And if you’re not sure who to see, come along to our Preview Show on 20th January at the Cookie and you’ll get a little taster of as many acts as we can fit into one night!”
Can’t argue with that.
The Leicester Fridge can be found at leicesterfridge.co.uk. Look out for the red Fridge logo in your Comedy Festival Programme