The annual Leicester Comedy Festival will take place next month as a ticketed online-only event due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Now in its 28th year, the festival will run from February 3 to 21, and comedy fans will be able to watch events via NextUp Comedy, the festival’s official streaming partner.
The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival will also return on the same dates.
Geoff Rowe, founder and director of Leicester Comedy Festival, said: “We are frankly delighted to be back in 2021 with our online festival programme. The support we have received from venues, promoters, comedians and the entire festival community has been amazing and it feels so incredible to know we won’t be missing a year.
“This is the 28th anniversary of Leicester Comedy Festival and it’s really critical to us that we play our part in continuing to celebrate British comedy and support new and emerging comedians. The on-going support from our main partners has enabled the festival to go on.
“Our programme for 2021 includes household names and the best up and coming comedians, as well as the usual mix of special events. We hope Leicester Comedy Festival 2021 will help put a much needed smile on people’s faces.”
Festival regular and star of ‘The Apprentice: You’re Fired’, ’Bake Off: The Professionals’ and ‘Bake Off: An Extra Slice’ Tom Allen will be joining other well known comedians, many of them festival regulars and long-time supporters of the festival, in taking part in exclusive online interviews with festival founder Geoff Rowe. They will discuss their comedy careers, including highlights, and the future of live comedy.
Each Q&A lasts 60 minutes, with all proceeds going to the charity Big Difference Company – producers of the Leicester Comedy Festival since 1994.
Other interview guests include Stewart Lee, Al Murray, Zoe Lyons, Angela Barnes and Ed Byrne.
Other comedians confirmed to appear as part of the Festival include Lucy Beaumont, Daliso Chaponda, Sophie Duker, Eshaan Akbar, Jessica Fostekew, Olga Koch, Tez Ilyas, Tony Law, Thanyia Moore, Patrick Monahan, Ahir Shah, Ian Stirling and Felicity Ward.
Further names will be announced in the coming weeks.
Many of the festival’s trademark special events such as the hugely popular UK Pun Championships and the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition have been postponed until later in the year.
The Stand Up Challenge, featuring Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jon Ashworth MP, will take place in June.
This fundraising event has taken place each year since 2015 and has raised significant amounts of money for charity.
Participants receive mentoring from comedian Anthony King, who provides support with writing and rehearsing the five minute stand-up routines. All participants are encouraged to raise money 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.
Leicester Comedy Festival regularly features more than 1,000 comedians, performing in more than 90 venues to an audience of 135,000.
The festival also has an estimated economic impact of more than £3 million per year to the local economy.
As part of the festival, the charity works closely with local community groups to ensure the smile spreads as widely as possible by organising workshops and activities, which engage hundreds of people each year.