An additional 5 Leicester & Leicestershire business people have signed up to take part in the Leicester Stand Up Challenge 2018. Tim Cadman (Serjeants LLP), Martin Smith (Force Four Creative Ltd), Shaf Islam (Chutney Ivy), Russell A C Irwin (East Midlands Airport) and Max Galt (Howes Percival LLP) are due to take to the stage in November to perform their first ever stand-up comedy routines. The contestants are due to help raise thousands of pounds for Leicester based charity Big Difference Company and the annual Leicester Comedy Festival. The contestants will all receive mentoring support from professional comedian Anthony King, who provides support in writing and rehearsing the original 5 minute stand-up routines. Full information, and tickets for the performance, can be found by visiting standupchallenge.co.uk.

These 5 new contestants will join Karl Craig-West (Buzz Website Design) and Monica Winfield (BBC Leicester) who have previously been announced, and all contestants will take to the stage of The Y, East Street, Leicester on Wednesday 7th November, as part of the Leicester Business Festival. Participants are encouraged to raise money for the charity and in previous years the project has raised in excess of £10,000 to help sustain the festival and the community projects delivered by Big Difference Company throughout the year. Previous projects have included working with children and young people, people with disabilities and older people. The Challenge also helps support the annual Leicester Comedy Festival, which is produced by the charity, and takes place from 6-24 February 2019.

The Stand Up Challenge has taken place each autumn since 2013 and over 20 business people have taken part over the years. Past contestants have included Howard Ebison (East Midlands Airport), Scott Knowles (East Midlands Chamber of Commerce), Nick Pulley (Santander), Debra Heighton (Turner Insurance), Mhairi Morris (De Montfort University) and Robert Bracken (Leicester Racecourse).

Previous participants have said taking part in the Stand Up Challenge has benefitted them in terms of developing their public speaking experience, networking with other business people, raising the profile of their businesses and supporting the charity and Leicester Comedy Festival. The performance is hosted by a professional comedian who provides some support and advice to the contestants on the night.

On signing up for the Challenge, Russell said “having been an actor, a return to the stage will be very exciting. Stand-up is the scariest of all mediums and this will be well out of my comfort zone. That having been said, Big Difference Company and the multitude of worthwhile projects they are involved in, will make the pain worth it.”

Max said “I’ve been coerced into taking part, under threat of sacking, by my firm (who are a long standing supporter of Big Difference Company). The irony is I’ll probably be fired for rudeness, crudeness, and a multitude of other HR sins after my performance anyway. Issues of duress aside, it’s a good opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause and subject myself to public humiliation, which I rarely pass up on!”

Martin said “It was easy to connect with using comedy as a vehicle to drive social or behavioural change – we use fun and comedy in our business and I know it works. Raising a bit of cash and having a giggle? What’s not to like? As for taking to the stage – I try to find a few activities per year that scare me. This is an easy 10 on my ‘scared-o-meter’.”

Tim said “The challenge of doing something I’ve never done before really appeals to me, and supporting a worthwhile charity is even better. Hopefully, by the end of the process I might even be funny!”

Shaf said “I’m really nervous and excited to have signed up to be part of the Stand Up Challenge. Having managed restaurants for many years, and dealt with the general public most of my working life, I have loads of stories – some of which I hope I can tell on stage to a live audience!”

Geoff Rowe, CEO of Big Difference Company, said “we’re thrilled to announce these latest brave contestants and are delighted to sign them up. We’re delighted with the support we continue to receive from the Leicester & Leicestershire business community and the brave individuals who take to the stage to perform original stand-up comedy. I’m genuinely in awe of those who take up the Challenge and walk on stage on the night but we know from previous years that all the participants get a huge amount of support from each other as well as the audience on the night.”

Tickets for the Stand Up Challenge are now on sale.

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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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