Leicester Comedy Festival preview: Zenjiro – Samurai Stand Up

With the Leicester Comedy Festival now in full swing for its 30th anniversary year, there is no better time to see incredible acts all over the city, writes John Perry. Diversity is something Leicester is justly proud of and there is no shortage of it with the acts to come.

One such man on that roster of talents for February is Zenjiro, winner of Bangkok’s international comedy competition.

Zenjiro is a Japanese stand-up comedian with physical energy levels to rival the great Lee Evans who’ll be playing Leicester on February 14 and 15.

He has previously featured on Japanorama, a TV show hosted by Jonathan Ross from 2002 to 2007. If you’ve seen that show, his face may seem familiar.

You will be able to witness his hilarious routine known as “Samurai Stand Up” at The Big Difference venue, within the heart of Leicester.

Zenjiro also demonstrates his talents via social platforms such as YouTube for those interested in checking out his talent before or after attending one of the shows.

Entry tickets at The Big Difference for Zenjiro: Samurai Stand Up will be £5, and you can book via the comedy festival website.

alternatively show up on the night and pay on arrival if you like to live a little dangerously.

Doors open at 7.40pm, with the show commencing at 8pm for a single hour of extreme octane energetic stand up.

Leicester Comedy Festival: Late-Night Jokes

Review by Amanjeet Heer.

I realised I had left my glasses at home as I sat in my seat for the Late-Night Jokes show, hosted by Alex Hylton. It soon became clear I didn’t actually need them. It wasn’t the best of comedy performances.

It began promisingly enough. Award-winning comedian Chris Norton Walker, set the bar high with his classic one liners, jokes and puns, gags, and wordplay. If there’s one thing that Chris knows for sure, is keeping the audience on their toes with his wacky and sexual humour.

We then got to see silly and unruly. My mistake, Hillie and Hulie, played by Rahul and George. As a fellow Asian, I was just about able to grasp Leicester-born Rahul’s jokes, but the audience’s reaction would say otherwise. I did find myself, at times, joining in with the forced laughter, when I could be bothered to do so. There’s that saying, “right person, wrong time” – and I think that fits perfectly with Rahul’s performance. He had a few good jokes, just for the wrong audience.

WARNING: take some headphones with you if you attend one of George’s shows. The act was straight up creepy, weird and utterly bizarre. A very scary take on comedy, which Hylton agreed to, with his eerie ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ (hence the need for the headphones). And I’m not talking about the hide in your duvet covers scary, I’m talking get-me-a-bag-I’m-about-to-vomit scary. The funniest thing about it was everyone’s tense reactions. At this point, I was really starting to question the ‘selection of finest acts.’ 

I was finally revived after reigning UK Pun Champion (2020), Adele Cliff hopped onto the stage, with her energetic, straight-talking and sarcastic performance. The star’s no-filter and PG-rated story telling jokes infected the audience with amusement and had me double checking for my glasses in my pocket. A real quality act.

Jason Neil was ok. I don’t really have much to say about his performance other than the fact it started off well but then got lost along the way somewhere. It’s a shame because I did see potential. Nevertheless, it was a breath of fresh air when Kevin Daniel took to the mic with his natural comedic talent and commanding stage presence. The audience would agree that it was undoubtedly a noble and witty performance.

Maybe I was fonder of the some of the acts purely because the others were crap. But I do know I probably wouldn’t go again. This was a pay-what-you-want show. I arrived with £20. I left with £21. Somebody had left a pound on my chair. 

Rob Gee performs live at WORD! comedy special

By Abi Willock

Poet and comedian Rob Gee gave a rib-tickling performance as part of WORD! at the Leicester Comedy Festival.

Rob performed alongside comedian turned magician Tim Bombdog, host Lydia Towsey and open-mic performers as part of the WORD! and Foxy Comedy Special at Wygston’s House.

Rob’s passion for poetry began when he became front man of a punk rock band, he said “I was 16 when I fronted the band and the chat between the songs kept getting longer.
“I got into comedy because most of my poems were funny.”

It’s true, Rob’s performance had the audience in stitches with a selection of poems including; ‘My Daughter is a Donington Goth’ and ‘Swear to be Good’ from his cleverly designed Poetry Tapas collection.

Rob performing infront of a live audience Photo by Nick Rawle

In the past, Rob worked as a mental health nurse for the NHS, and often talks about the funny side of some of his experiences in his poems.

The giggle-inducing ‘COPD Singalong’, which was originally written as a commission about how choral singing can help with symptoms of chronic pulmonary disease, was a firm favourite among the audience.

Audience member, Elliot Luxton said, ”My favourite poem was ‘A Very Chilled Robbery’.

“I was very much impressed by his whole performance.”


After the gig at Wygston’s House

Rob helped to set up WORD!, a poetry and spoken word organisation running activities across the East Midlands, when it was founded 18 years ago.

Alongside performing, he also delivers comedy-based workshops for members of the ’Wednesday Words’ group.


Leicester Comedy Festival in full swing

By Ben Stevens

The Leicester Comedy Festival is well underway with shows taking place at dozens of venues across the city.

The festival returned last week in a more normal environment having been moved online last year as a result of Covid-19.

The festival runs until Sunday, February 20 and tickets are still available here.

Some of the comedy stars performing include Katherine Ryan, Simon Brodkin and dozens more.

The Leicester Comedy Festival started in 1994 and since then thousands of shows have been performed across the city. It has since grown in popularity and has been dubbed by The Guardian as one of the “top comedy shows in the world.”

It will be a Good Friday for Leicester as Leicester Comedy Festival launches event

By Abigail Beresford

Leicester Comedy Festival is set to celebrate Leicestershire talent through virtual showcase ‘Leicester’s Good Friday’ to raise money for the live entertainment scene in Leicester.

The event is set to go ahead on Friday, April 2, at 7pm to showcase talents of Leicester, and to raise money for the arts and entertainment industry in Leicester.

Guests are set to include Grace Petrie, Jess Green, The Bed & Breakfast Men, Seetal Kaur, Kesha Raithatha and other fantastic talents.

“All the sets for this performance will be filmed in empty Leicester venues, following all the relevant Covid guidelines to ensure the artists and crew are safe,” said Geoff Rowe, the founding director of Leicester Comedy Festival.

“We hope people will watch the final show and be reminded of what a great cultural city Leicester is.”

Leicester has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing 100-days in the national lockdown in the toughest restrictions. This has had a damaging impact on the arts and entertainment industry in Leicester.

“Hardly any live performances have taken place in Leicester for 12 months and we know artists, promoters, and venues have found it a really tough period,” added Mr Rowe.

“If this performance can help sustain the people involved, and make sure everyone can bounce back when things open again, that has to be a good thing.”

People are being encouraged to donate to the fundraising event, alongside the purchase of their ticket to show support for the Leicestershire Arts.

The profits made from the event will be given to support venues and the artists that are taking part.

Tickets are £1 to attend, but people are being encouraged to donate to the fundraising event. 

Tickets are available to purchase at https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/leicesters-good-friday/ .