If you’re looking for a laugh this October, look no further than the Granite City when from Thursday, October 6 for 11 days the Aberdeen International Comedy Festival flings open its doors and makes a much-anticipated return to city stages.
Taking place in a variety of different venues, from vintage theatres to wee atmospheric pubs, comes a line-up of comedians that will dazzle and delight audiences who just want to laugh.
Brought to the city by Aberdeen Inspired, the Business Improvement District, the festival has been in hibernation since 2019 but it’s back with a bang, bigger and better than ever with an international, national and local line up of comedy that’s eclectic and exciting.
Shona Byrne, Festival Manager told us what to expect from the festival this year. She said, “Aberdeen is a small city with a big heart and this October for 11 days comedy will take centre stage at over 20 city centre venues providing locals and visitors with so many reasons to be cheerful.
“We’ve crammed comedy into as many corners of the city centre as possible with the aim being to bring people out to experience and enjoy all the city has to offer. Audiences will find they can have a laugh from as little as £7 and we are thrilled to bring some hotly tipped rising stars to the city for the first time as part of this year’s festival line up.
“We can’t wait to open the festival doors this week, there are shows to suit all tastes and we really look forward to seeing folk lose themselves in laughter.”
Supporting local sits at the heart of the festival with local venues, volunteers, charities, businesses and acts all set to play their part. To this end the festival kicks off with its opening Show, Doric’s Funniest featuring local comedians Kenny Luke, Scott Graham, Stuart Leon and Peter Wood for a right ‘fine’ night of local laughs at O’Neills at 7pm.
Headlining on opening night is comedy festival favourite, Irish funny man David O’Dohery who’s a big fan of the beautifully restored Tivoli Theatre where he’s performing. His show, whoa Is Me is sure to be a sell out, so much so, that he’s performing two festival nights back to back on Thursday October 6 and Friday October 7.
Commenting on his return David O’Doherty said “I can’t believe it’s been four years since I closed the Aberdeen Comedy Festival and invited the entire audience to the pub around the corner for a post festival drink. “See you all soon!” I said as I left. To say it has been an up and downy four years since would be disrespectful to rollercoasters. But I am SO happy to be coming back to the most beautiful theatre in Scotland, this time to open the festival. Let’s party again!”
The opening weekend is jam packed with acts for both adults and kids. Drag makes its festival debut at Aberdeen Arts Centre on Friday October 7 when Slay Presents brings What A Gag to the city featuring a line up of Scotland’s top drag artists, which fans of Rupaul, divas and drag won’t want to miss. Kids of all ages are encouraged to come along to see Lee Kyle who is An Actual Giant on Saturday October 8 described as “a show for families that don’t think that kids are little angels”.
Saturday’s line up includes Lunchtime Laugh’s being served up at the Glentanar and McGinty’s Meal an’ Ale with evening offerings running from 5pm right through until 10pm. Top picks for comedy fans on a Saturday night include Stephen Bailey who brings a bit of Sophistication to Cheerz at 7.30pm. Last seen in the city as tour support for the fabulous Katherine Ryan, the equally fabulous sharp witted Mancunian is a star of Live at the Apollo and host of Celebs on The Farm.
This will be Stephen’s debut solo show in the Silver City and he’s very much looking forward to it, he said “My one and only time in Aberdeen was with my comedy big sis Katherine Ryan and now I need to find out if you liked me by showing up!! Your men are fit, your ladies are fun and where my gays? Excited to be back Aberdeen, see you on Saturday, Cheerz!”
With venues no more than 20 minutes walk apart from each other it really is easy to pack a few shows into a day and there’s no excuse for locals to stay indoors as comedy festival ticket holders will be able to bag a free day ticket courtesy of FirstBus who will be emailing a unique code to comedy customers a few days before the festival begins.
Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired told us why the local partnerships are such an important part of the festival. “Supporting local businesses, promoting local talent, providing opportunities for local people sit at the heart of the comedy festival.
“Our events deliver way more than footfall into the city centre, they bring opportunities to local companies and genuine partnerships with local businesses. This year we have three local shows featuring northeast comedians, over 20 city centre venues hosting performances, 50 volunteers helping out, local tech company Law Sound providing show support, a strong partnership with Original 106 and Mental Health Aberdeen are our official charity partner.
“Aberdeen Inspired are excited to be bringing the laughs back to the city centre and I can’t wait to see and hear the reactions of the audiences at the festival shows”.
Other top picks include two shows at a new festival venue Union Kirk. Supernova! The Hottest Comedians from 2022’s Edinburgh Fringe are exclusive to the festival and look set to be one of the fiercest festival tickets. Supernova on Saturday October 8 has a line up which features rising star Connor Burns, the whimsical Gareth Waugh and JoJo Sutherland, the teller of many a saucy story. Then, on the following night, Sunday October 9 the Supernova bill includes 2021's Scottish Comedian of the Year award-winner Liam Farrelly, Scot Squad’s Chris Forbes and the delightfully crude Kai Humphries, a Geordie by birth, but an honorary Scot at heart.
Kai is also getting up to a bit of Mischief with his Fringe solo show on the bill at Union Kirk on Sunday October 9. He told us “My material is all quite mischievous, I’m always pushing the boundaries and seeing what I can get away with.
“Audiences can expect to come and have a laugh from the beginning to the end of my show. It’s a show of two halves with quite a large section on growing up in the North-East on a council estate in the 80s and 90s, so it’s kind of nostalgic of the time when we would play outside and hang around on the streets. The second half of the show is the juxtaposition of what my life is now, a middle class tourist with a cavapoo dog. I don’t even recognise myself anymore, so gentrified!”
Of course the festival is packed full of headline acts including dead pan telly man Jack Dee at the Music Hall, there’s a brand new show on stage at the Douglas Hotel from Justin Moorhouse, Harry Hill takes his own brand of Pedigree Fun to the Tivoli, Britain’s Got Talent winner Daliso Chaponda and another festival exclusive is a one off night with Scotland’s international comedy superstar, kilty sensation Craig Hill who’s also on the hunt to find the best eggs benedict the city can serve up and Scotland’s international comedy superstar and Netflix sensation, Daniel Sloss who takes to the stage at the Music Hall with some of his friends.
The festival closes on Sunday October 16 with Stuart McPherson who’s bringing his acclaimed 2022 Fringe show The Peesh to Siberia and the fast, furious and totally absurd headliner Milton Jones will bring the festival curtain down with his show Milton:Impossible at the Tivoli.
Plans are already underway for the 2023 festival with Gary Faulds Live at Aberdeen Arts Centre already announced and on sale for next year.
Shona Byrne, Festival Manager concluded “There’s no doubt that it’s a tough time just now with the uncertainties that have landed on our laps with the cost of living crisis and the fall out from the pandemic. Laughter brightens up your day and can have such a positive effect on how you feel, as the saying goes ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and that’s what we are serving up in October, come take a seat and have a right good laugh.”
For the full line up and tickets visit www.aberdeencomedyfestival.com