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The Liverpool Comedy Festival 2016 was officially launched at the Royal Court Theatre last week and yesterday saw the launch gala of the festival’s fringe event at 81 Renshaw St. Ran by Gavin Cross of Funny Looking… they’ve aptly named the offshoot the Funny Looking Fringe.

A new element of the wider comedy festival – which is now in it’s 14th year – and looks to add another thread to the festivals bow. The Funny Looking Fringe is planned to not only support Liverpool’s ever-growing grassroots comedy scene but also enable more acts to develop and broadcast long-form comedy.

“Long-form comedy differs from the – perhaps – more commonly known comedy of traditional clubs, where 3/4 acts play out over a few hours and it’s all held together by a compere. During these nights, audience participation and banter are par for the course and even in encouraged in some clubs. Whilst elements of this are present during long-form shows, the focus is quite often elsewhere. Long-form is – generally speaking – a self-contained 50-60 minute piece, with more theatrical elements; a narrative arc, pathos, even tragedy.” Said someone who knows a thing or two (but not more) about comedy.

Last night’s gala, in cooperation with Bido Lito, saw some of the Fringe’s best and brightest perform snippets of their upcoming shows. These snippets were enough to suggest that the big names at the Liverpool Comedy Festival needn’t take all your attention nor pound coins… and dare I say it, you’d be better served spending your hard fought monies at 81 Renshaw St. You’ll have a better laugh to pound ratio.*

A self-contained 50-60 minute piece, with more theatrical elements – a narrative arc, pathos, even tragedy.

Managed Decline Highlights & Recommendations pt 2**

A Lovely WarThe future at some point

Starting the night with a two piece iteration of A Lovely War (band) seemed a bold and almost odd choice considering the comedic leanings of the night (& festival) but the band’s Beatles-esque pop songcraft coupled with their 80s sensibilities won me over with ease. Check them out at a gig at some point.

Top JoeSaturday 17th September

A finalist at this year’s Echo Comedian of the Year awards during the festival, Top Joe is effortless in his portrayal of a bedraggled & confused Welshman. Whilst there is certainly an argument to state a Hi-Vis can open doors for you, it’s often out of sympathy rather than authority.

Thaddeus Bent – Wednesday 21st of September

For fans of Matt Holness’ Garth Marenghi and Alan Partridge, Thaddeus Bent is as kitsch as he is good. Expect the unexpected – and the expected for that matter – cover all bases, then throw it all away and just go see him anyway.

Jim Alsbalstian’s Human Zoo – Saturday 24th September

Sketch comedy (but good). Their macabre take on the (sometimes) saccharine comedix genre is as pleasant as it is disturbing and well worth a trip to 81 Renshaw.

This is a good starting point but at the end of the day, it’s all subjective so get off your arse and source stuff yourself.  

*Buy a badge or a mug, help the grassroots out.

**Pics to come – so you can spot them in the street and harass them in person.