Beyond a Joke

A series of talks and events exploring contemporary issues in stand-up comedy. These events provide an opportunity to go beyond the laughter with contributions from comedians, industry professionals and academics.

In partnership with Centre for Comedy Studies Research (Brunel University London), De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Beyondthejoke.

Make Me Laugh with Brett Mills

Saturday 10th February – 12:00pm – PETER Pizzeria

The ‘Make Me Laugh’ project followed members of British TV’s comedy industry for 3 years, to find out how they do their jobs, what gets in the way, and how programmes get made. This session will give you insights into the machinations of the industry, and how those who work in it survive. What do they have to go through in order to make you laugh?


The Art of Thinking” About Comedy

Saturday 10th February – 1:30pm – PETER Pizzeria

Why does what makes us laugh make us laugh? Can it change the way we think? In 2018 are comedians becoming more timid for fear of offending people and ruining their career? An entertaining hour long talk illustrated by clips, by the insightful and entertaining philosopher Dr Greg Scorzo, followed by an audience discussion. How would ground-breaking work of yesterday be viewed today?


25 Years of Leicester Comedy Festival with Geoff Rowe

Saturday 10th February – 3:30pm – PETER Pizzeria

Join Festival Director Geoff Rowe for a chat about the origins of the festival including how & why it was set up. Hear some of the highs and lows of the past 25 years and some of the plans for how the festival might develop over the next 25 years. A unique opportunity to hear some of the inside stories about Europe’s longest running comedy festival.


An Interview with Harry Hill

Sunday 12th February – 2:00pm – Curve

In 1994, a guy called Harry Hill performed as part of the very first Leicester Comedy Festival. Since then Harry has come a long way and he is now one of the UKs most loved comedians. Multi award winner, Harry has presented numerous radio & tv shows and in autumn 2017 he published his latest book “Matt Millz” about the youngest stand-up comedian in the world. Join Harry for this in-depth interview with Festival Director, Geoff Rowe.


I Say – The Annual Comedy Conversation Ft. Sara Pascoe

Friday 16th February – 5:45pm – Hugh Ashton Building (DMU)

Our special guest is comedian, writer & performer Sara Pascoe. Star of Live at The Apollo, Mock the Week, QI and Taskmaster, Sara is a multi award-winning comedian & has appeared on BBC TV shows W1A and 2012. Join her as she chats to Festival Director Geoff Rowe about her career and future plans. In association with Equity & De Montfort University. In aid of Big Difference Company (registered charity 1135167).


Carry On: 60 Glorious Years with Robert Ross

Saturday 17th February – 12:30pm – PETER Pizzeria

In 1958 cameras started rolling at Pinewood Studios on a comedy film called Carry On Sergeant. The film would become the third biggest box office success in Britain of that year. Sixty years on the franchise is still going strong. A revealing talk illustrated by rare and hilarious behind-the-scenes footage, from the official Carry On historian Robert Ross.


Why Stand-up matters: how comedians manipulate and influence with Dr Sophie Quirk

Saturday 17th February – 2:30pm – PETER Pizzeria

Does it matter what we laugh at? Join academic Sophie Quirk as she asks whether stand-up comedy has an impact on politics and society, exploring how it manipulates attitudes and voices dissent. This talk will demonstrate the potential harm – and real benefits – that may arise from ‘just’ being funny.


An Interview with Dave Johns

Saturday 17th February – 4:30pm – PETER Pizzeria

Dave is one of the most respected comedians working in the UK, however, he almost gave up comedy in order to manage donkey rides at Whitley Bay. Come and listen to what happened when he got a call from film Director Ken Loach and went on to star in the critically acclaimed film “I, Daniel Blake” and won the coveted Palme D’Or Award. An interview with Festival Director Geoff Rowe. Photo: Steve Ullathorne


The bastard ghost of Bernard Manning: class stereotypes and Northern comedians with Kate Fox

Sunday 18th February – 12:30pm – The Cosy Club

Following Kate’s PhD research she found that stereotypes haunt Northern comics and are a way for some to reinforce damaging prejudices. The men are all Bernard Manning, the women are all Victoria Wood. Some acts suffer from this whilst some resist it and some reinforce them. At a time when the Northern Powerhouse is being constructed could grinning up North help resist persistent ideas that it’s Grim Up North?


Is that funny? Comedy & Politics / Politics & Comedy

Sunday 18th February – 2:30pm – The Cosy Club

Across the globe, comedians are becoming politicians and politicians are becoming comedians. Do politicians make successful comedians? Do comedians make good politicians? Why are so many politicians attempting comedy and vice-versa? These questions, and more, will be hotly debated by an expert panel. This will be lively! Come along and have your say!


Greening the laughs

Sunday 18th February – 4:30pm – The Cosy Club

Over recent years the team behind Leicester Comedy Festival have explored ways to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and making the festival as “green” as possible. This has included planting trees in the National Forest and working with the reFiesta team. This discussion will focus on reviewing some of these ideas and exploring new ways of working. If you have ideas, please come and share them with us.


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