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Leicester Comedy Festival 2011

Have you heard about the famous Asian karaoke artist from Bradford? Gerupta Singh! (Get up to sing!)


Leicester Comedy Festival is underway with over 350 shows across 50 venues.


The organisers are celebrating record ticket sales – almost 20,000 tickets have been sold so far, about 3,000 more than the same time last year – and the longest running comedy festival in the UK is celebrating its eighteenth birthday. Top comedian Jimmy Carr says the annual festival is his fourth favourite thing about Leicester ‘after Gary Lineker, crisps and Kasabian,’ the local Indie band.


Besides Carr headline shows include Lenny Henry, Stephen K Amos, Arabella Weir, Jo Caulfield, Shappi Khorsandi, Chris Addison and Phil Cool the stand up chameleon, whose rubber face can instantly change from Sylvester Stallone to the alien from across the galaxy.


Laughter is serious business. Researchers from Leicester’s De Montfort University calculate that the festival puts almost £2 million into the local economy over the 17 days. But more importantly, thousands of people from near and far are having a great time and forgetting about the recession. Leicester is advertising short break packages like ‘Comedy and Curry’ and ‘Eat, Drink and be Merry.’


The artists and venues are multicultural. A new generation of Asian comedy talent is appearing in a show called Kuch Kuch Innit at the Kayal, a vegetarian restaurant specialising in South Indian cuisine.


The performers, known as Asian Persuasion, include Essex boy Adnan Ahmed who makes sharp observations about growing up as the only Asian in the village and Don Biswas (London New Comedy Award Winner 2010 winner), who is known for punchy one-liners, some drawing on the fact that he has Asperger’s syndrome.


Also appearing are Mickey Sharma (Bath New Act of The Year 2010), and Romesh Ranganathan (So you Think You’re Funny Finalist 2010), who makes gags about his Sri Lankan name.


The Nigerian comic Stephen K Amos, whose first ever gig was in Leicester, says the K stands for Kehinde, which is Nigerian for ‘second of twins.’ He bases his show, The Best Medicine, on a diary he wrote when he was 13, which contains some harrowing entries which made him howl with laughter when he read them. ‘Laughter helps you deal with things.’


And Andi Osho, whose show Afro-Blighty is about growing up in a tower block in London’s East End, says, ‘It’s about my relationship with race and culture.’


Also having a good laugh are Leicester Symphony Orchestra, which has formed a double act with the conductor and ‘comedian extraordinaire,’ Rainer Hersch. This year’s theme is the Last Night of the Proms… Ever – and they promise to ‘rip off, poke fun at and generally ruin that jewel of the British concert season, from Land of Hope and Glory to Rule Britannia.’ It’s a cheeky take on everything that is British and musicaI.’


The festival’s most famous supporter is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who has sent a message from Buckingham Palace: ‘The Queen sends her best wishes to all concerned for a most memorable and enjoyable event.’


Festival director Geoff Rowe says, ‘To receive the letter and message of support from Her Majesty shows how Leicester Comedy Festival has become recognised.’


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