Lauren Pattison confirms new date for her show at Leicester Comedy Festival

By Beatriz Abreu Ferreira

Lauren Pattison has announced on Twitter she will be performing at next year’s Leicester Comedy Festival, which runs from February 3 to 21.

The comedian was in Leicester for the 2020 edition of the Comedy Festival and has now confirmed she will be returning in 2021 with her work-in-progress show Party of One.

“My first preview of what should have been my 2020 show was in Leicester and I thought ‘you know I think I’m onto something with this show.’ Anyway then a global pandemic happened so let’s start again in 2021 – same title, same venue, new show … hopefully, ”she wrote.

Lauren Pattison plays Peter Pizzeria on February 21. To find out more about the comedy festival visit: https://comedy-festival.co.uk/

Leicester Comedy Festival announces its return in 2021 with COVID-19 safety measures

By Adam Rear

The Big Difference Company, the charity in charge of producing the Leicester Comedy Festival, has announced that both Leicester Comedy Festival and The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival will be running in 2021.

Running from the February 3-21, the star-studded line-up for the 2021 festival includes big names such as Ed Byrne, Angela Barnes, Larry Dean, Stewart Lee, Zoe Lyons, Al Murray and Iain Stirling, as well as over a hundred more confirmed acts and many more to be announced in the future.

Al Murray: One of the headline acts for the upcoming 2021 Leicester Comedy Festival

Tickets will be available online and, in following with Government guidelines, the NHS Test and Trace system will be in use throughout the venues, as well as other safety measures.

Geoff Rowe, founder and Director of Leicester Comedy Festival & The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival, is hoping to shake away the winter blues in 2021.

“We are frankly delighted to be back in 2021 with our two festival programmes.  Since the end of our most successful festival to date back in February this year, the world has changed beyond all belief and there have been times when, like many people, we weren’t sure what the future would hold.”

A variety of additional safety measures will be put into place, including reduced capacities of shows, socially distanced seating and extra time between shows will be allocated for additional cleaning.

Big Difference is also excited to announce the return of an exciting fundraising event called the Stand-Up Challenge, which is due to take place in June 2021.

The headline name for the upcoming summer event is Jon Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Member of Parliament for Leicester South.

“They laughed when I said I was going to do stand-up, well they ain’t laughing now,” he said.

“I can’t believe I’ve agreed to do stand-up. But it’s all for charity and sitting opposite Boris Johnson in the Commons has given me plenty of material.”

The Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition has been postponed until June 2021. Fans of the event fear not, a ‘Best of Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year’ show will be held on Saturday, February 22, showcasing the return of previous festival comedians who either won or were nominated in previous years.

For more information about tickets, dates, acts, safety measures and more, head to www.comedy-festival.co.uk and www.ukkidscomedyfestival.co.uk.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Jo Brand and guests at De Montfort Hall

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Review by Olivia Maclaughlin

Tonight’s line up featured Eshaan Akbar, Arthur Smith, Ivan Brackenbury, Hal Cruttenden, Jo Brand, a barking dog and a man in the front row who came to watch, and ended up on stage.

In a night supporting the Big Difference Company, the charity behind the comedy festival, the entertainment didn’t stop right from the moment the host Phil Nichol stepped on stage.

That isn’t to say there weren’t moments that weren’t planned. Like the dog, making an unplanned guest appearance by barking at the back of the room. Thinking on his feet, Nichol made it part of his act.

He made connections throughout the crowd, whether four-legged or not, especially a man in the front row, who became a running gag whenever Nichol returned to the stage.

By the end of this two-and-a-half hour fundraiser, Neil had been lured on to the stage, and was singing while the audience chanted for him.

The line-up all brought their own different styles, ensuring there was something for everyone.

Akbar was first on, and brought political commentary and self-deprecation to stage which appealed to the younger members of the audience, but brought a tut from one woman near me.

She was keener on Arthur Smith, the godfather of British comedy, who came pre-armed with crowd-pleasing puns and a comedy poem. But at the end he recited a poem about kindness which allowed for moments of sincerity and added another level to the show.

Sometimes using using a gag over and over again doesn’t work, but with Brackenbury it did. His hospital radio DJ act has been around for a few years, but his songs and simple one liners got us back in the swing of things after the break.

After this came Cruttenden, immediately confessing to looking like Mr Tumble. Well, the crowd was thinking it too. His routine mined a rich seam of gags from marriage and turning 50.

Last up was Brand, who appeared from behind the red curtain to thunderous applause, and commanded the room from joke one.

Never one to shy from cheek-blushing comedy, she tore into topics about weight and the menopause, along with her life with her husband and two daughters.

She’s a natural storyteller, and showed just why she has lasted so long in comedy.

A perfect way to end an hilarious night.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Tom Stade at Just the Tonic at Hansom Hall

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By Aleksandra Brzezicka

Warning: Tom Stade’s show is not for children, the faint-hearted or easily insulted. Stay away for your own safety.

The man enters the room like a washed-up rock ‘n’ roll star would enter the hall of fame. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Stade. Let’s get on with this already.

Stade starts off with an announcement. He’s 50 this month, so he can finally get a grasp of what it means to be old. Obviously, he chooses the oldest-looking lad in the audience to bond with over the young stuff they can’t do anymore.  Like showing off your penis in a public restroom for a quick mates-involving STD check. Or during kids’ parties. You may even end up making toilet plans for your bum on the road instead of checking out chicks on the way. Highway to hell, indeed.

Well, at least you were brought up tough, not like the spoiled brats of the new generation.  “Violence makes you learn,” says Tom. The teachers didn’t beat the crap out of you so you’re plainly dumb, probably don’t even drive and don’t worry about bills. You’ll just make a joint out of them. Yes, Tom, that’s what we all do.

Despite all the drama and squeezing the f word in every other sentence, Stade’s show was very informative and took us on an exclusive tour to the toilets and a vending machine shopping haul. Women learnt that in the gents you can buy paracetamol, condoms and, for only three pounds, a vibrating cock ring. Then in the women’s you can get paracetamol (for when your gal need to fake a headache), tampons, vibrating bullets and tests to check if your drink has been spiked. For some reason, the last one caused a wave of indecent laughter. Hilarious. Tom Stade, what a lad you are.

He also made a homage, of a kind, to “the greatest paedophile in the world, Michael Jackson.” If you’re forced to do it with your uncle, it’s a crime; if it’s MJ you’d get a career out of it. How perceptive.

Stade walks a thin line of daring dark humour and bad bad taste. That’s the most exciting element to his show. You never know what’s gonna hit you – a penis pun or satire on fake news – or if he’ll just shout at you.

He poses as a comedian who poses as a schmuck to manipulate the masses into laughter, this time at the ornate Hansom Hall – or this “piece of s**t room.” He doesn’t care about opinions, hates people and loves to swear. And that’s his charm.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Laurel and Hardy Cabaret at the Guildhall

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Review by Sofia Luis-Hobbs

Laurel and Hardy are undoubtedly a classic comedy duo but they’re an acquired taste in this day and age.

And if I didn’t quite acquire it, it certainly wasn’t for want of trying. I grew up watching them on DVD with my dad. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I sat and watched nonetheless, as he was reduced to hysterics beside me.

It’s been years since I’ve seen any of their films, but when the chance presented itself to go and see a cabaret version of their act I couldn’t help but smile at the thought – not necessarily at the show but at the memories it sparked.

The show began with the immortal theme tune, triggering giggles around the room and I knew then that the next 120 minutes would be a trip down memory lane for everyone in there.

Well, pretty much everyone. The cabaret had drawn a mixed crowd to the Great Hall of the Guildhall, including several younger children and a toddler or two who cooed during some inopportune moments – but Tony Carpenter and Philip Hutchinson had it covered. Quick on their feet, they found ways to incorporate these noises off into their performance, particularly whenever Laurel needed a talking to – which, of course, was often.

The duo really are the full package when it comes to impersonating the iconic pair. Not only did they embody the characters perfectly, they bear an uncanny physical resemblance of the original Laurel and Hardy.

Carpenter, who plays Laurel, mimics the famous head wiggle, the outbursts of crying and sheer naivety throughout the performance to a tee. Hutchinson, as Hardy, gets to dominate, which of course brings with it the famous tie grab alongside a flustered laugh and pursed lips.

The cabaret includes an array of the duo’s classic sketches, from their earlier works to their final ones, as well as some sketches that were never released.

Performing famous routines from Swiss Miss, Men O’ War and Sons of the Desert, Carpenter and Hutchinson pull it out of the bag – and no, I’m not talking about the random things Carpenter seems to pull out of his bag to irritate his onstage partner.

Yet they also brought the act up to date, with a song performed to a photo of Susan Boyle. It was unconventional but a stroke of genius, alongside other tricks they had up their sleeves to get younger audiences involved.

Fun-filled and family friendly, the cabaret is a true homage to the duo, which Laurel and Hardy fans will be sure to adore.