Jonathan Pie, Paul Chowdhry, The UK Pun Championships, The Gala Preview Show, Hotel D’Comedie, The Alternative Business Awards, The Secret Tour, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition, a National Lottery-funded exhibition focusing on comedy in Leicester, and a comedy school for young people are announced as shows and special events which will take place as part of the 25th anniversary of Leicester Comedy Festival from 7-25 February 2018.

The festival is the longest running comedy festival in the UK, having taken place every February since 1994, and the 2018 programme will feature a bumper programme including exclusive special events and the best comedians from across the UK. The full programme will be announced when the official brochure is published in November but the festival has announced some of the special events today, alongside a crowd funding campaign to help support new and emerging comedians. Full details can be found by visiting comedy-festival.co.uk

Leicester Comedy Festival has a long tradition of providing a platform for new and emerging comedians and has helped launch the careers of numerous comedians across the last 25 years (including Johnny Vegas, Romesh Ranganathan, Rhod Gilbert, Jason Manford & Josh Widdicombe). For 2018 the festival is launching Circuit Breakers, a development programme to help support comedians wanting to perform at the festival and break into the UK comedy scene. Organisers are launching a crowd funding campaign to help raise funds to support the programme, which will fund a group of comedians to attend the festival, perform and meet agents, producers and members of the UK comedy industry. The campaign is hoped to raise £10,000 and individuals who pledge will receive a range of rewards, such as discounted tickets, exclusive merchandise and invitations to events, in exchange for demonstrating their support for new talent.

Geoff Rowe, founder and Director of the festival said: “every February since 1994 we have worked with some of the most talented comedians and promoters to produce the annual Leicester Comedy Festival.  It’s been a blast and we are now focusing on celebrating our 25th anniversary in style in February 2018.  Audiences have grown enormously since we started and we hope they will continue to support the festival, and specifically our Circuit Breakers project which will support new and emerging comedians. Like many festivals and cultural organisations we are having to identify new income streams to enable us to sustain what we do and stay true to our core mission. The festival is a tremendously supportive platform for comedians to perform at and try out new material, gain new fans and develop what they do. We want the festival to continue with this so we are seeking support from comedy fans across the UK to enable us to do this.”

A Funny City exhibition, made possible by National Lottery players, will focus on the history of comedy in Leicester, including memories and memorabilia from members of the public and promoters including Alan Seaman, Kev F and Nicola Ward who ran the Leicester based comedy club ‘And Y Not’ at venues including The Y Theatre and Bar Gaudi. The exhibition, which will also feature archive material from the last 25 years of Leicester Comedy Festival, has been produced by Big Difference Company in partnership with organisations including De Montfort University and BBC Radio Leicester. Funding for the exhibition was secured from Heritage Lottery Fund. Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “It is fantastic that the 2018 Festival will not just be featuring the best of today’s comedians, but also the rich history of comedy in Leicester over the last 25 years. So many of the UK’s best and most successful comics have performed in Leicester over the years, and we’re delighted that National Lottery players have been able to support this celebration.”

In addition to these two ambitious projects, it’s still all about the comedy shows. Tickets go on sale today via the festival ticket office for acts and events including Jonathan Pie, Paul Chowdhry, The UK Pun Championships, The Gala Preview Show, The Secret Tour, Hotel D’Comedie and Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition.

The 25th Leicester Comedy Festival will run from 7th – 25th February 2018. More information can be found at comedy-festival.co.uk

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Great Central, John has been actively involved in Leicester's creative community for over a decade - promoting shows and releasing records under the name Robot Needs Home. He is a director of Handmade Festival, and ex member of the band Maybeshewill.

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