Belfast’s funniest festival returned for its fourth year during 23 September – 4 October 2015 with its most successful offering to date. With 43 events, attracting audiences in excess of 5k, the comedy arts festival is the largest of its kind in Ireland. Not restricted to stand-up comedy, it strives to challenge, inspire and inform through clowning, cabaret, workshops, seminars, film, bus tours, club nights, and events for children.
Critically acclaimed comedians such as Daniel Sloss, Ardal O’Hanlon, Sara Pascoe and Diane Morgan, took part alongside leading local comic talent such as Tim McGarry, Nuala McKeever, Paul Currie and Neil Dougan. The festival also showcased a number of clowning performances, including the US cult artist Red Bastard who was appearing in Northern Ireland for the first time and Clown Noir. Other performers included Ursula Burns, Teresa Livingstone, Terry McHugh, Paddy McGaughey, Peter Davidson, Chris Kent, Colin Geddes, Conor Keys, Mags White, Luke McGibbon, Conor McGinley, Jade Davison, Mary Flanigan, Chris Montgomery, Rory McSwiggan, Gemma Hutton, Louise Taylor, and David Doherty-Jebb. Improv and musical comedy were well represented with US artists Tara DeFrancisco & Rance Rizzutto, and local acts such as festival favourites Wonder Frog, the Inappropriates, James Curran, Neil Dickson and the Crescent Comedy Players.
Local sketch group Those Who Can’t also performed their new show and the wonderful tenx9 showcased the best comic stories from their recent spoken word events. A series of iconic comedy films was also screened during lunchtime in the city centre. We also ran a fringe programme for the first time in a pop up venue (located in a city centre office building) with our partners Accidental Theatre which included performances from SINEAD, the Imp, and Geoff Hart. In another new venture we worked with a group of people who have faced homelessness and housing stress which culminated in a fundraiser for the Welcome Organisation featuring Jake O’Kane who performed for free on the night.
Added to this mix was a conference on the state of comedy industry; a debate on comedy and offence; kid’s comedy events; workshops on comedy writing and improv, and even some Laughter Yoga, which created one of the quirkiest and most diverse arts festivals in the city. Belfast Comedy Festival was generously supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council Northern Ireland and also by the Department for Social Development.