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Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival 'New Blood'

Sat 12th January, 2013 @ 2:58pm by jackrichardson

Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival 'New Blood'

“Over 500 shows in 17 days?” muses the astute comedy fan, “Pah! That’s a piece of cake, I can do that in 16 days…”, or so he thinks. But expanding upon 2012’s frankly stella line-up, Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival 2013 is promising to give considerably more in a ‘bang-to-buck’ ratio

With 517 shows (to be exact) over 17 days in 50 venues, the second year of support from TV channel Dave has been paramount in the festival’s continued development. Marking the 20th anniversary of the festival, which has evolved from humble beginnings as a university project, Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival 2013 looks set to impress yet again.


With many an established name or face adorning the 100 page festival guide, it’s an easy task to cherry-pick the safe bets – the one’s you recognise and know will be funny – though that’s no fun. This is a Fringe and all, so extremes are to be expected! Now, watching some young whippersnapper give it their all on stage for merely your attention (and a reasonable entrance fee) is a better risk, and more fun besides. And lets face it, the big names now were the small names only a few years ago, and we all take sweet satisfaction in saying “Oh them, yeah, I saw them years ago in a tiny basement”.

But Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival is not just about your personal talent-finding egotism, it’s about laughing as you stumble across, and enjoy comedy from, a name completely new to you. There is a rich bank of emerging talent at the festival each year, which makes short-listing a difficult task, but as your eyes scour the guide-book eagerly in search of the next big thing, be sure to recognise these: Daniel Simonsen, Iain Stirling, Tiffany Stevensen, Joey Page, Liam WIlliams, and Fin Taylor. Daniel Simonsen is an off-kilter, deadpan Norwegian who describes his style as “doubt, doubt, doubt”. After winning a Foster Award for Best Newcomer, and appearing on Russell Howard’s Good News, Daniel is in Leicester for two shows, Champions (Curve, Feb 02 @ 8PM), and Work In Progress (Crumblin’ Cookie, Feb 22 @ 7:30PM). His peculiarly nervous, awkward style is engaging with sharp insights. Iain Stirling on the other hand bounds with energy. A spiky-haired, fresh-faced, Scotsman, perhaps familiar to the younger among you as the CBBC of presenter of Help! My Supply Teacher is Magic, Iain’s situational comedy takes an accessibly silly edge. Fresh from supporting Russell Kane on tour, Iain comes to town with two shows, Happy To Be A Clown (Crumblin’ Cookie, Feb 18 @ 8:30PM) and his Work In Progress (The Criterion, Feb 24 @ 8:30PM). He is one not to be missed if you enjoy light-hearted laughs with no deadpan edge.

As seen on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and Show Me The Funny, Tiffany Stevenson’s Uncomfortably Numb (The Criterion, Feb 19 @ 7PM) might be seen as a battle against the inevitable passing of time. A show about ageing, Tiffany’s central theme plays on the effects of time to uncover class hatred, racism, sexism, and, of course, some brilliant laughs. Joey Page, however, fosters a show of pure lunacy and utter surrealism. Reality is Outside, Paradise Is In Your Brain (The Exchange Bar, Feb 18 @ 8:30PM) pretty much says it all – existential surrealism in a neurotic blend of mundane-ridding oddness.

Liam Williams takes a more relaxed, down-to-earth approach in his retelling of life in Leeds and, subsequently, Cambridge. At his Debut (Work In Progress) show (The Criterion, Feb 15 @ 9PM), Liam’s honest mentality promises to be relatable and earnest. “I must admit”, notes Liam, “I haven’t yet created any comedy of real worth and am really not the funniest guy you’ll ever meet”, but this just adds to the Leeds Lad allure. Liam’s smattering of YouTube videos hint at the funniness of his blue-collar comedy and it would be a shame to miss. Liam will also be appearing as part of the sketch group Sheeps at the festival for Dancing With Lisa (Crumblin’ Cookie, Feb 15 @ 7:30PM), about a dream riddle. Lastly Fin Taylor, self-described as “friendly but sweary”, is undertaking his first solo tour since his appearances in ‘The Lunchtime Club’ and ‘The Big Value Show’ at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and 2012 respectively. With hilarious situations and a constant niggling feeling that even the most ridiculous of them actually did happen, An Hour of Fin (The Criterion, Feb 24 @ 7PM) is set to give audiences some good ol’ side-grabbing laughs.

As festival founder Geoff Rowe notes, “don’t just stick to the safe stuff” so take a chance this February. Go for the unexpected choices. Seek the unknown names. With these six as merely a starting point it’s clear to see the size of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, and the variety there waiting to be found – the wealth of talent that it supports owes much to it as a platform for exposure.

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