Comedy Festival Special: Liverpool, Sheffield & Women in Comedy

John Stansfield

Liverpool Comedy Festival, Sheffield Comedy Festival and Manchester’s Women in Comedy Festival are all on the horizon – here are our top picks of what’s on.

A couple of months have passed since the Edinburgh Festival – the biggest arts festival in the world, and maybe even the universe – hovered up all the best comedians. Now, it’s time for cities that aren’t Scottish to try their hand at the funny fest game. Over the next couple of months, Sheffield and Liverpool host a fine array of both what the city has to offer in the way of local comedians, as well as stand ups from further afield. Manchester, on the other hand, welcomes the return of the Women in Comedy Festival after the success of last year’s inaugural event. Three big hitters in three big cities – so let’s get to our top picks from each.

Women in Comedy Festival

There’s bountiful choice at the Women in Comedy festival; the line-up is the perfect answer to any myths or preconceptions about female stand ups. Bizarre space clown Cheekykita (The Castle Hotel, Fri 17 Oct) leads the more surreal offerings in this year’s festival; she is joined by the equally brilliant Jayne Edwards for a night of black holes and happy souls. Manchester sketch group Birthday Girls (at the newly revamped Gullivers pub, Sat 25 Oct) bring their acclaimed and often televised act to the festival for some party vibes.

Not quite in Manchester, but not far on the train and well worth the visit is Kate Smurthwaite (Todmorden Cricket Club, Sun 12 Oct) who will be peddling the excellent mix of witty observations and political dialogue that have seen her appear on Question Time and BBC1’s Big Questions. Also on the bill are Jo Caulfield of Mock the Week and Never Mind the Buzzcock’s fame (King’s Arms, 12 Oct) and the brilliant Sophie Willan (King’s Arms, 16-17 Oct).

Liverpool Comedy Festival

Instrumental sees Vikki Stone attempt to play twenty musical instruments, with differing results (Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, 26 Sep). Anyone familiar with Stone’s ode to Phillip Schofield will know that she can play the piano with aplomb but head to the show and find out where her other talents, both musical and comedic, lie.

Winner of the Best New Sketch Act and Audience Choice Award at London’s Sketchfest, Gein’s Family Giftshop (81 Renshaw Street, Fri 26 Sep) will be presenting their Edinburgh smash show Volume 1 alongside Kiri Pritchard-McLean’s Racist, Sexist Comedy Show. Something for everyone then. A thoughtful show about the links between race, sex and success Kiri is one to watch, whereas Gein’s need to be seen to be believed. PE kits never got so filthy. Meanwhile, local lad and bright young thing Tony Carroll (Hot Water Comedy Club, Tue 30 Sep) will be letting you know why he “Just Wants To Be Loved” in a story of love, loss and, of course, Liverpool.

Sheffield Comedy Festival

Sheffield born and raised comedian Tom Wrigglesworth (Crucible Studio, Tue 14 Oct) brings his poignant and hilarious show Utterly At Odds With The Universe to his home town. Wrigglesworth tells the tale of his relationship with his granddad and the influence he had on his life and career. The not so uplifting, but still entertaining Phil Ellis presents his Foster’s Edinbrugh Panel Award winning show Funz and Gamez (The Greystones, Sat 18th Oct, 2pm). It’s a mix of child cruelty and gross alcoholism – but it’s also unbelievably funny. One man train of thought Tony Law will also be at the festival (Sheffield City Hall, Tue 21 Oct), beckoning onlookers into the “Tone Zone”, an intangible mix of Law’s words and thoughts that will just about make sense, and may change your whole world.

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