Tomorrow, we are launching SatireDay with 15 terrific events all poking fun at life and the uncertain times we face in this mad, mad world. Belfast is noted for its sardonic wit so this theme fits much of our programme including the shows tomorrow featuring the Rubberbandits, Michelle & Arlene, Bill Hicks: Relentless, our Kate Bush dance parody and Alternative Bedtime Stories - to name but a few! Don't forget our conference in the Mac will also explore the local comedy scene including humour and conflict. So join us in having a laugh and satirising the powers that shape our world. Book tickets at belfastcomedyfestival.com

Belfast Comedy Festival shared their event.

Comedy Industry Conference

Northern Ireland Comedy Industry Conference Saturday, 7 October 2017 The Mac, Belfast Sponsored by Equity, Belfast City Council, Arts Council NI & ASM Introduction As part of Belfast Comedy Festival, a special conference examining the comedy industry in Northern Ireland has been organised with key partners on 7 October in the Mac. The aim of this event is to review the current state of the comedy industry in Northern Ireland and consider ways in which we can better support performers, writers, event organisers and other practitioners. During the conference, we will share practical advice and skills on how to make it in this complex industry. Come along and meet useful contacts, attend a range of informative workshops and hear from some of the most successful local industry figures. We will also get an opportunity to debate what is needed to support performers and further develop the local comedy scene. At the end of the event • Participants will have had an opportunity to network, develop new knowledge and skills in order to develop their performances and careers in the comedy industry. • Proposals and ideas for improving support to performers and the comedy industry will have been generated hopefully resulting in long term benefits for the arts, tourism and entertainment in Northern Ireland. After the event, a conference report will be published online. Programme 10.00 Introductions & welcome 10.15 Supporting comedy in Northern Ireland - perspectives from leading figures in the arts and comedy worlds, chaired by Graeme Watson with panelists including: • Adam Adnyana, National Organiser, Northern Ireland and Scotland, Equity • Bec Hill, performer • Simon Magill, Creative Director, The Mac • Peter Davidson, performer and promoter • Belfast City Council representative (TBC). 11.30 Break 11.45 Workshops 1. How To Stand Out in Stand Up. This workshop will focus on finding your niche and exploring other avenues for your USP, including Twitter, YouTube, and specialist events. This workshop is best suited for comedians with some experience who are still looking for their voice, but is open to anyone of any level in any artistic field. - Bec Hill 2. How to look after your mental health.A look at why our flow of creativity is essential for the mental health of comedy performers and their audiences – Victoria Armstrong 3. Comedy and ‘the Troubles’. The role of comedy in conflict situations – Tim Miles 1.00 Lunch 1.45 Finding and building your audience – Audiences NI 3.00 Workshops 1. The future of Belfast Comedy Festival – ideas on taking it forward – Peter O’Neill 2. EdFringe: making it work for you – Paul Currie 3. Equity Comedians’ Network – Adam Adnyana 4.15 Plenary and what's next 5.00 Close Registration Please register before 5pm, 3 October 2017 on our website Registration fee £5 For further information, please contact Peter O’Neill Belfast Comedy Festival info@belfastcomedyfestival.com

October 07, 2017 - October 07, 2017

And the winner is Sarah! She Got Very Quizzical tonite in the wonderful American Bar. Great game show & lovely audience. Thanks to Rory, Matt & the team with hat tip to Paul & Jamie for tech help!

Lively crowd Getting Quizzical with Les Ismore in the American Bar. Game show mayhem!

Belfast Comedy Festival shared their event.

Fake I.D.

Growing up in a mixed-race, mixed-faith household at the height of the northern Irish troubles, writer Joseph Nawaz takes us through some old family snapshots, and his childhood years in 80s and 90s Belfast. Expect excruciating revelation, some confusion as to the actual direction of Mecca from Balmoral Avenue plus finally solving the age-old riddle of what the difference is between a Protestant Muslim and a Catholic Muslim. Running through it all, like a stick of cardamom-flavoured rock, is Joe’s complicated relationship with his Pakistani father, whose sudden, untimely demise precipitated a trip to Pakistan and some surprising discoveries. Join us for a funny, sometimes poignant evening, about a struggle with family and identity in a cold social climate, not to mention the impossibility of a halal Ulster Fry. Directed by Emily Foran. Doors 7.30pm Its BYO!

October 06, 2017 - October 07, 2017

Last shout out for this hilarious game show taking place tonight in the lovely American Bar with Les Ismore. Expect fun, facts, laughter and tears with great prizes thrown into the comic mix! Tickets still available at only £5. Doors 9:00pm: Show 9.30pm

Let’s Get Quizzical

Like a mythological creature comprising equal parts gameshow and man, Les Ismore straddles the enraged bullock of Ulster Light Entertainment. Still to be thrown from the psychotic burger-beast of trivia, he takes his life’s culmination, Let’s Get Quizzical to Belfast. A gameshow where three lucky contestants compete in rounds including The Anne Frank or Bridget Jones Diary round, Phrasecatch and The Play Your Cards Both Close to Your Chest and Right Round Like a Record Baby right round right round round. As well as fun, facts, laughter and tears, Les promises us he “really, really needs this”. Please note the change of venue from the Sunflower Bar and the later start time of 9.30pm from the details previously advertised. Doors at 9pm

October 05, 2017 - October 05, 2017

Pack up your Troubles and Smile, Smile, Smile

It’s a funny old life. I am an English academic, and I first came to Northern Ireland about ten years ago as part of my work as a theatre scholar. I was writing chapters for a couple of books, each on the work of the Belfast playwright, Gary Mitchell. My work was earnest and sincere, moved and fascinated as I was by the history of this part of the world, and the struggles of its people. And then something funny happened – quite literally – I kept hearing laughter. ‘This can’t be right’, I thought. ‘These people have lived through the Troubles, and are part of the peace process – they should be taking everything deeply seriously.’ But the hilarity continued. I heard laughter on the streets, and in the pubs. I heard jokes, and funny anecdotes, often related to the tensions between, and within, the two communities.

I would spend my days beavering away in Linen Hall Library, and in the evenings, try and find comedy. I went to the Grand Opera House to see The History of the Troubles Accordin’ to my Da, the Troubles comedy by Martin Lynch, Conor Grimes and Alan McKee.  I was especially interested as the production had come to the Tricycle theatre, London’s main theatre for Irish plays, a year or so earlier. I was working at the Tricycle at the time and the production had died on its feet – audiences were poor, and the press hated the show. But the Grand Opera House was packed, and the audience loved it – the whole building rocked with laughter. The same script, the same actors, but a hugely difference response. Why was this? Surely, it was not just a question of local people liking what they can relate to, as I had seen plenty of other Irish plays do well at the Tricycle, including many comedies. Something was going on. My furrowed brow, and ever-so-serious research, seemed frankly a bit out of place. ‘This can’t be right’, I thought. I was like an awful tourist, annoyed that the locals were failing to live up to my preconceived, media-generated, stereotypes. Clearly, I needed a shift in focus. I needed to understand comedy and laughter.

Northern Ireland was the start of a journey for me, in examining comedy. We are not the only animal that laughs, but we are the only ones that use laughter to such profound psychological and social purpose. Chimps, for example, will make a laughter sound when taking part of chasing games, but this seems largely to be a physical response to excitement. As Freud pointed out, humans use comedy to find a socially safe space to work their way through the taboo and their most intense anxieties. Our bodies produce stress-reducing hormones such as oxytocin (known as ‘the cuddle hormone’) when we laugh. We feel safe, better able to address and deal with terrible events and feelings. This is what, I think, the audience at the Grand Opera House was experiencing, and why the London audience, removed from the day-to-day implications of the Troubles and its legacies, struggled to find anything very funny.

Comedy can divide people – people tend to have strong views as to what comedy they like and what they may find offensive. But it also brings us together. We laugh as a collective, encouraged to laugh by the laughter of others. We like to ‘share a joke’. We viscerally experience the physical sensation of being part of an audience, all laughing at the same time. Laughter brings a sort of community cohesion with it. Moreover, it acts as a sort of all-clear signal. Jokes set up tensions which are then released. It’s like having a massage and therapy session all rolled into one. The act of laughing at a joke is, quite literally, a peace process. If you want to understand a people, especially people who have gone through difficult times, look at what makes them laugh.

Tim Miles is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at Liverpool John Moores University. Feel free to contact him anytime, especially about comedy: T.J.Miles@ljmu.ac.uk