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Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Ten days of laughs
The 2018 Birmingham Comedy Festival boasts a rib-tickling line-up that includes Ab Fab's Joanna Lumley, Rich Hall, James Acaster and Tom Binns. The award-winning 10-day feast of fun runs from October 5 to October 14 at a number of venues in central and south Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall


Leading the pack is Joanna Lumley (pictured above, Oct 9, Symphony Hall), whose Absolutely Fabulous character of Patsy ranks as one of the greatest comedy creations of the last 40 years.

Other highlights are James Acaster (Oct 12, Sutton Town Hall), The Infinite Monkey Cage's Robin Ince (Oct 12, Comedy Junction, Sutton Coldfield), and the brain behind BBC One's Hospital People, Tom Binns (Oct 12, The Glee Club).

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
International: Rich Hall (pic: John Zumpano)


Adding an international flavour to the proceedings are American legend Rich Hall (Oct 11, B'ham Town Hall), Aussie-based comic of Irish descent Jimeoin (Oct 12, B'ham Town Hall) and Canadians Bobby Mair and Dana Alexander (Oct 12-13, The Glee Club).

Podcasters are well represented with a return live appearance from The Scummy Mummies (Oct 10, Sutton Town Hall), The Thinking Drinkers (Oct 5, The Old Rep), Private Parts (Oct 6, The Old Rep) and Josh Pugh and Phil Pagett's Knowledge Club (Oct 14, The Victoria, B'ham).

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
Out in force: Barbara Nice


Top West Midlands comedians are also out in force, from Barbara Nice (Oct 13, B'ham Hippodrome) and Man Like Mobeen star Guz Khan (Oct 5-6, The Glee), to Black Country 'internet sensation' Gary Powndland (Oct 7, The Glee Club), and the multi-award nominated The Elvis Dead creator Rob Kemp (Oct 14, The Victoria, B'ham), with a brand new show.

Other highlights include acclaimed ISIS tragi-comedy Bismillah! (Oct 4-6, Old Joint Stock), the premiere of writer Leo Butler's All You Need Is LSD (Oct 4-13, The REP) and The Gilded Merkin (Oct 14, The Glee Club), who bring some of the best cabaret and burlesque acts to the city.

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
Highlight: The Gilded Merkin


There is also the return of the Birmingham Comedy Festival Free Half-Dayers (Oct 7 and 14, Cherry Reds and The Victoria), featuring 16 free shows in Birmingham city centre on successive Sunday afternoons.

The festival officially launches on Friday October 5 with the prestigious Edinburgh Gin Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2018 at The Glee Club, which recognises the best new talent from the region.

A festival spokesman said: "We've got another packed line-up this year with over 70 performances featuring not only stand-up comedy, but also sketch shows, improv', spoken word, theatre, music, game shows, podcasters, fine art, and loads more – with more than 20 shows that are free/ pay-what-you-want!"

Established in 2001, the annual festival has welcomed some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy, from Michael McIntyre and Peter Kay, to Jack Whitehall and Sarah Millican.

The festival was originally set up to highlight the city's vibrant, but then largely unsung, comedy scene, and acts from West Midlands have always featured prominently, from Lenny Henry and Stewart Lee, to Joe Lycett and Mrs Barbara Nice.

In 2017 it was voted Best Midlands Arts Festival by readers of What's On Magazine.

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall


The 2018 Birmingham Comedy Festival listings:

October 5

EG Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2018 (The Glee Club);
Steve Lilly's Comedy Classics – art exhibition (daily until Oct 14, Birmingham Hippodrome);
Hit The Ode Comedy Special (Birmingham Hippodrome);
Best of Brum Comedy Showcase 1 (Cherry Reds);
Summit Stand Up: Micky P Kerr, Junior Simpson (Sutton Coldfield Town Hall);
The Thinking Drinkers: Pub Crawl (The Old Rep);
Bismillah! (Old Joint Stock Theatre);
Danny O'Brien, Andrew Ryan, Gareth Richards & Guz Khan (The Glee Club);
Michaela Jayne: It's All About The Class (Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath);
All You Need Is LSD (daily until Oct 13, Birmingham Repertory Theatre).

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
Premiere: All You Need is LSD


October 6

Jonathan Hopkiss and Chris Purchase (1000 Trades, Frederick St, Jewellery Quarter);
Blingfest: The Orchestra Of Chaos (The Spotted Dog, Digbeth);
Private Parts Live (The Old Rep);
Bismillah! (Old Joint Stock Theatre);
Upfront Comedy (Midlands Arts Centre);
Danny O'Brien, Andrew Ryan, Gareth Richards & Guz Khan (The Glee Club);
Kamikaze Club's Panel Show: A Quest For Points (1000 Trades, Frederick St, Jewellery Quarter).

October 7

Free Half-Dayer: Part 1 – Aaron Twitchen, Lindsey Santoro, Ham and Clives, Freddie Farrell, Alex Hylton, Good Kids, Jay Handley, Round The Horne (Cherry Reds/ The Victoria);
Laurel and Hardy: In And Out of Service (Midlands Arts Centre);
The Awkward Silence: Bufo Bufo (Old Joint Stock Theatre);
The Laughing Sole Comedy for Kids: Noel James (Midlands Arts Centre);
Dirty White Boys: Mistress To The Midnight (The Victoria);
Gary Powndland and Friends (The Glee Club).

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
Free Half-Dayer: Aaron Twitchen


October 8

Ted Lowe Presents A Long Walk To Quinton (The Victoria).

October 9

Joanna Lumley: It's All About Me! (Symphony Hall);
East Meets Westlife: Mo Haroon and Alex Black (Cherry Reds);
The Laughing Sole: Noel James and Mandy Muden (The British Oak, Stirchley).

October 10

The All-New Scummy Mummies Show (Sutton Coldfield Town Hall);
Cherry Shreds New Material Night (Cherry Reds);
Kamikaze Club's Birmingham Comedy Showcase (1000 Trades, Frederick St, Jewellery Quarter).

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
All-New: Scummy Mummies


October 11

Rich Hall's Hoedown (Birmingham Town Hall);
Parlour Games (Old Joint Stock Theatre);
MY Comedy: Mercedes Benson (Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath);
Comedy Carousel (The Glee Club).

October 12

Jimeoin: Result! (Birmingham Town Hall);
James Acaster (Sutton Coldfield Town Hall);
Robin Ince: Chaos Of Delight (The Comedy Junction, Station pub, Sutton Coldfield);
Tom Binns: Everyman (The Glee Club);
Best of Brum Comedy Showcase 2 (Cherry Reds);
Parlour Games (Old Joint Stock Theatre);
Maff Brown, Bobby Mair, Carey Marx and Dana Alexander (The Glee Club).

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
Rib-tickling: James Acaster


October 13

Barbara Nice's Raffle (Birmingham Hippodrome);
Vikki Stone (Midlands Arts Centre);
Josh Pugh and Good Kids (1000 Trades, Frederick St, Jewellery Quarter);
Parlour Games (Old Joint Stock Theatre).
Kamikaze Club's Panel Show: A Quest For Points (1000 Trades, Frederick St, Jewellery Quarter).

October 14

Free Half-Dayer: Part 2 – James Cook, Hannah Silvester, Gareth Berliner, Mickey Sharma, Fat Penguin Improv, Josh and Phil's Knowledge Club, Rob Kemp, Board Game Smackdown (Cherry Reds/ The Victoria);
The Gilded Merkin: Burlesque and Cabaret (The Glee Club).

Birmingham Comedy Festival 2018, Joanna Lumley, James Acaster, Tom Binns, Robin Ince, Symphony Hall, Birmingham Town Hall
Free show: Hannah Silvester
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Why? Ten days of comedy
When: October 5 - 14, 2018
Where: Various venues in and around Birmingham
Cost: Various (including free!)
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