Carry on laughing - DMU continues its long-running partnership with Leicester Comedy Festival

Here’s something to raise a smile – De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has announced it is to continue to work in partnership with the 2024 Leicester Comedy Festival, bringing superb opportunities to students and staff to get involved.

Founded 31 years ago by DMU Arts and Festivals Management student Geoff Rowe, Leicester Comedy Festival is now one of the biggest and longest running comedy festivals in the UK.


The line-up for the next festival, which runs from Wednesday 7 February to Sunday 25 February 2024, has just been announced and it will be a record-breaking year with more than 700 shows being staged in venues big and small around Leicester and Leicestershire.

Comedy giants such as Romesh Ranganathan, Stewart Lee, Ross Noble and Rosie Jones and rising stars such as Sophie Dukar and Angela Barnes will be joined at the festival by stalwarts such as Count Arthur Strong and Arthur Smith.

There will also be ‘In conversation’ events with established comics, exhibitions celebrating comedy festival work in the community and more off-the-wall events such as the beer mat flipping championships and the hugely popular UK Pun Championships.

The 31-year link between DMU and the Leicester Comedy Festival has presented opportunities for dozens of students to gain enviable experiences in support of subjects such as Arts and Festivals Management – whose students run a festival venue - Media Production, Photography and Videography and Journalism.

DMU is also home to the Leicester Comedy Festival archives, containing items such as posters, programmes, tickets, scripts and props, while DMU PhD researcher Rachael Abbey is looking at publishing a paper on the ‘unspeakable barriers’ of comedy.

The extension of the partnership will see even more opportunities presented to DMU students and staff over the next 12 months.


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Michael Harris-Wakelam, CEO of The Big Difference Company, the charitable arm of the Leicester Comedy Festival, said: “From our point of view, Leicester Comedy Festival would not be where it is now without the support from DMU.

“Around 75% of the staff here at the Big Difference Company have been a DMU student at some point. That in itself shows how important the links are between the festival and the university.

“It is not just the festival itself that brings its benefits. It is the year-round activities that come from this partnership that provides opportunities for the students and academics.

“DMU’s support has a great impact on the festival and we also realise how much it means for the students and staff at DMU.”


Fi Donovan, Head of Engagement and Partnerships at DMU, said: “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with the Leicester Comedy Festival - and long may it continue. The opportunities offered to students and staff are unique in the university sector.

“That is why we are always looking at fresh and exciting ways to get our students and staff involved in the festival and the work being done throughout the year with the Big Difference Company.”

An impact report looking at the benefits of the partnership between DMU and Leicester Comedy Festival has recently been published with former students contributing to the report.

Katie Holtom, who completed two placements with The Big Difference while studying at DMU, said: “I am incredibly lucky to have worked on two Graduate Champions internships with Big Difference, as Events, Marketing and Partnerships Associate.

“The roles gave me a huge wealth of practical knowledge of the professional arts and cultural sector, which I otherwise would not have gained coming straight out of university.

“It provided the ideal stepping stone into my career, giving me a super supportive team to work with, who nurtured me to become really confident in my abilities.”

Chantelle Small, Audio & Recording Technology student, said: “I am forever grateful for the amazing time I spent working with Big Difference Company. The skills, connections, and recognition I gained will have a lasting impact on my future endeavours.”

The Leicester Comedy Festival programme for February can be viewed here. Some of the events have already sold out so early booking is advisable.

Posted on Wednesday 8th November 2023

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