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Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2013: The last laugh as 20th festival ends


The laughter may have faded but Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2013 will live long in the memory.

Founder and director Geoff Rowe said he couldn't be more pleased with how this year's festival had gone, which he expects to break "all box office records" on its 20th birthday.

The festival drew to a close at the weekend, and the past 17 days have seen more than 520 events held at more than 50 venues across the city and county – up by more than 100 on 2012.

Sold out shows have included Paul Chowdhry, Joel Dommett, Daniel Simonsen, Holly Walsh, Milton Jones, Alan Davies, Tony Law and John Shuttleworth, just to name a few.

"Given the size and scale of our 20th birthday, we are incredibly pleased with how things have gone," said Geoff.

"Attendance across the 17 days has been really strong and it looks like this year's event has been by far the most successful to date.

"We are still adding up all the ticket sales but it looks like we'll have broken all box office records across the festival."

Organisers responded to the constant challenge of building on the festival's success and keeping things fresh by introducing a series of new events.

"We worked hard this year to increase the impact of the festival across Leicester and Leicestershire," said Geoff.

They included a Festival of Photography at Leicester train station; Comedy Blind Date on Valentines Day, pop-up shows across the city with the Comedy Tourist and Chuckles in the Chapel.

There was also Old Folks Telling Jokes and the De Montfort University Square Mile Smiles Showcase, with additional events held across the county with Leicestershire Stands Up.

Worth about £2 million to the city's economy, venues have been equally pleased at the impact of this year's festival.

Russell Hunt, manager of The Criterion pub, in Millstone Lane, said: "We've had plenty of returners (comedians) this year, including Matt Rudge, George Ryegold and Joe Bor. It's a compliment to us they choose to come back here.

"It's also refreshing to have new faces in during the festival. People experiment by buying a £5 ticket here and there.

"It's great to have a change of clientele, and hopefully they come back to us throughout the year."

John Helps, manager of near-by Firebug, said: "It has been our best year ever. We've had mostly sold-out shows to the point where we couldn't fit anyone else in the room. The standard of comedy has been amazing. It has flown by."

"Chris Stokes was wicked and Tony Law played two sold-out nights which were amazing.

"January's quiet for most places, but February is always packed and busy because of the festival."

Anthony Hopkins, owner of The Crumblin' Cookie, in High Street, said: "We've had nine sold out shows this year."

He said there had been so many good shows.

"John Kearns' show was stunning, really great, and we've enjoyed Josh Widdicombe – he always come back to our venue.

"Daniel Simonsen's 'Work in Progress' won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer so it's been great to have him here."

Geoff Rowe said the growing national profile of the festival had helped, including the sponsorship of TV channel Dave, reviews in national papers and coverage on TV shows such as BBC Breakfast and Loose Women.

But he pointed out that none of it would have be possible without the "support received from people across the city and county.

"It's been an amazing 20th birthday!" he said. "We're now looking forward to a rest before continuing to plan for our 21st birthday in February 2014."

Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2013: The last laugh as 20th festival ends

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