Leicester Comedy Festival has officially been launched with a trip down memory lane over its 25 year history.
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) staff, business leaders and festival organisers attended today’s launch, kick-starting a programme of more than 840 events in 60 venues across the 19 days.
Geoff Rowe, Leicester Comedy Festival founder and director
Comedian Lloyd Griffiths entertained about 50 guests at The Gallery at the Vijay Patel Building, on the DMU campus.
There were plenty of laugh-out-loud gags at the event, which was the first gig of this year’s Comedy Festival.
The Festival, which continues until 25 February, will feature big-name comedians such as Harry Hill, Sara Pascoe and Tom Allen.
Festival Director Geoff Rowe, of the Big Difference Company, started the event back in 1994 when he was a student at DMU, in the final year of his Arts and Festivals Management degree.
Officially opening the 25th Festival, he said the ‘annual shenanigan’ had become ‘an insanely large event.’
Geoff said: “It’s all my fault…but you have to admit, it’s not bad for a student project, is it?
“When we put the first Comedy Festival together as a bunch of naïve but enthusiastic students, little did we know what it would grow into.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity and I feel privileged to have developed this thing.
“We launched as DMU students and our partnership with DMU continues to this day. We wouldn’t be able to do it all without the team at DMU.”
Professor Alison Honour, DMU’s Pro Vice-Chancellor/ Dean of Arts, Design and Humanities
Geoff talked the crowd through some of his festival highlights from the last 25 years, but admitted ‘the early years were now getting a bit fuzzy.’
He thanked the comedians for their support year after year, and shared a story about writing letters to ‘famous people’ Sir Norman Wisdom and Tony Slattery asking them to be festival patrons as the founding students had ‘zero credibility outside the university.’
Geoff also reiterated the Festival’s aims to support new and emerging comedians, raise the profile of the city and Leicestershire, and to increase the economic and social impact to residents.
But he admitted it was the first year he’d ever launched the Festival ‘in front of a green dragon.’ The Dragon of Profit and Private Ownership (2017) is part of an exhibition by artists Walker and Bromwich, inspired by Trade Union banners of the 1920s.
Find out how DMU is involved in the Leicester Comedy Festival
Visit the exhibition celebrating 25 years of laughter
Comedy Festival gives students the chance to hone journalism skills
Professor Alison Honour, DMU’s Pro Vice-Chancellor/ Dean of Arts, Design and Humanities, said: “We are hugely proud of the Comedy Festival at DMU. It is a huge event for the city and county and increasingly a nationally recognised event.
“And how proud are we that it was started by our own creative and entrepreneurial alumni at its humble beginnings in 1994?
“There are now many, many students involved in the Festival who are pursuing their passion.”
This year, DMU Arts and Festivals Management students are running venues, Demon Media members are interviewing comedians and reviewing shows, and other students are volunteering in the community at #DMULocal comedy initiatives.
Comedian Lloyd Griffiths
Lloyd, who is also the co-host of Soccer AM on Sky Sports, said it was the 5th year he had been involved in Leicester Comedy Festival, joking that he was doing the gig for ‘a free cottage pie.’
He reminisced about his Leicester memories, including staying in a hotel for the weekend, visiting an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant and being asked to join Slimming World by a heckler.
Lloyd said: “I know I’m a little fat bloke from Grimsby who you’ve never heard of…but I keep coming back to Leicester, I like it.”
He also impressed the crowd by doing impressions of some of the ‘432 types of sticky adhesive tapes’ then showed off his professional choir singing skills.
DMU is the Festival’s Higher Education Partner. For more information and tickets, visit the website or call 0116 4566812.
Posted on Wednesday 7th February 2018