It’s the big names who will grab the initial headlines at this year’s Harrogate Comedy Festival but it’s the rising stars who help make this event so successful, writes Graham Chalmers.
Running from October 5 to October 18, the HCF14 line-up does offer household names aplenty such as Ross Noble, Arthur Smith, Marcus Brigstocke, Dave Gorman, Chris Ramsey, Ruby Wax and Mark Watson.
The latter’s fame now extends beyond comedy into literature with a series of novels, the latest of which Hotel Alpha: a story in 101 parts has just been published.
But many of the 100 or so comedians due to take part in the sixth instalment of what one of last year’s featured headliners, Andy Parsons described as “one of the top five comedy festivals in the world”, will be well known right now only to visitors of the Edinburgh Fringe.
One of the hottest new stars which Harrogate Theatre has managed to snaffle this year is Bridget Christie who sold out her entire run at this year’s Fringe within a day or two of the festival starting.
Her offbeat, knowingly silly sense of kitsch first made waves in her 2010 show, A Ant, a thinly veiled attack on discrimination, which saw Christie dressed as an angry ant to attack the establishment with panache and humour.
Last year, her contempt for a pathetic marketing campaign for pastel ballpoints found Christie at the top of her game with A Bic For Her, a brilliant and hilarious deconstruction of sexism and misogyny.
Such was its popularity, it landed her the Edinburgh Comedy Award for best show.
Bridget will be performing a double bill at Harrogate Theatre on Thursday, October 16 16 - the award-winning A Bic For Her plus her new show An Ungrateful Woman.
As always, there will be HCF’s Comedian of the Year competition with three heats as a whole host of tip-top comics battle for the public’s vote to secure a place in the final of the third Harrogate Comedy Festival Comedian of the Year competition - in association with local brewery Daleside.
Hosted by Danny Deegan, the heats will take place on October 6, 7 and 8 with the final on Wednesday, October 15.
Not that Harrogate Comedy Festival has ever been just about pure stand-up.
It’s always been able to boast an entertaining mix of the weird and the wonderful, the traditional and the groundbreaking.
Cult Channel 4 favourites Cardinal Burns will offer charismatic and offbeat skits of considerable lunacy at Harrogate Theatre on Saturday, October 11.
Edinburgh Fringe success Austentatious, a comedy play spun in the style of Jane Austen, takes place on Saturday, October 11.
There is also a new venue in the mix, as The Crown Hotel joins in the laughter.
Among the acts appearing there will be brilliant musical improvisers The Horne Section and Jason Cook.
The latter is the writer, creator and co-star of BBC2’s award-winning sit-com Hebburn and performs in the Crown Hotel on Monday, October 13.
The same venue hosts Silent Heroes, a tribute to comic legends of the silent film era featuring Andre Vincent and film composer Neil Brand on Sunday, October 12.
Tickets for Harrogate Comedy Festival are available on 01423 502116 or online at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk