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

taking comedy seriously

We all love a laugh and pride ourselves on having a great sense of humour in this part of the world but in many ways comedy is taken for granted in Northern Ireland, with relatively little recognition and support from the arts and tourism sectors.

As part of the Belfast Comedy Festival we are discussing the state of the local comedy industry at a conference on 25 September to see if there’s a strategic way of better promoting our talent and protecting it in the face of the swinging cuts which we believe will have a major impact on performers, clubs, venues and festivals (like ours).

Given the history and vitality of humour in this part of the world, we think we’re missing a trick in not properly supporting the local comedy scene as we believe it could be a major creative and economic driver with tourism, health, good relations, and other benefits.

Despite the recession, ticket sales for comedy shows have proved to be remarkably resilient across the UK with 50% of the population having been to at least one comedy event in the past three years and nearly 2 out of 5 people attending at least one event in recent years. Comedy fans in Northern Ireland attended the most shows in 2013 compared to all other UK regions. Also NI has the highest percentage (90%) of people planning to attend one comedy event every year in the next 3 years. (Source: Ticketmaster analytics, September 2014).

Comedy patrons are also more likely than the UK population as a whole to attend other events such as films and other festivals. Comedy is therefore a gateway to the arts in general as well as a popular arts genre in its own right with a wide appeal to non-traditional arts audiences. A recent report found that this was particularly the case for men not interested in attending other types of arts events. (Source: Research to examine the barriers to engaging in arts, sports, libraries and museums for people living in poverty, DCAL, January 2015).

Estimates suggest that the comedy industry contributes £300 million a year to the UK economy with major benefits for the drinks and restaurant trades. With at least 20 comedy clubs in Northern Ireland, we think a significant economic contribution can also be scaled up locally if the right support is made available to clubs, venues and the estimated 400 comic performers in NI.

For this to happen we believe the arts sector should adopt a less snobbish approach to supporting the comedy industry and recognise it formally as a proper arts form.

I would argue there is a need to map the existing level of activity in the sector and develop a strategic plan for the comedy industry in partnership with performers and bodies such as DCAL, Arts Council, Tourism Ireland, Invest NI and local councils. Agencies such as Audiences Ni and Arts & Business NI should be invited to contribute to this along with other stakeholders including Pubs of Ulster, local promoters, businesses and even our local politicians! At Westminster there is a All Party Parliamentary Group on the UK comedy industry which reflects how important the sector is to the wider entertainment and culture sectors.

In the same way that government supports the NI film and music industries we should set up a similar strategic approach for the comedy sector and consider how to:

Map the current range of activity and performance in the NI comedy scene and identity gaps and opportunities;

Consider how to build greater scale in the comedy industry;

Develop a stronger base of performers and promoters as an investment for the local economy;

Improve business skills and management talent within the industry;

Market Belfast as a city of craic and Northern Ireland as a short stay destination, renowned for comedy;

Develop and nurture talent and retain that talent within NI;

Support and market local performers at international events such as EdFringe for example.

If you’re able to join us on during the afternoon of Friday 25 September in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, we hope to discuss how we can convince DCAL, the Arts Council and local councils to protect and hopefully invest in the local comedy industry and help support local talent and comedy clubs. We think we need a cunning plan to make comedy a serious business. What do you think?

Peter O’Neill
Festival Director