Curtain up on festival that's just for laughs

thisisoxfordshire: From left, Ida Persson, Will Payne, Jen Sugden and Phil Cotterill From left, Ida Persson, Will Payne, Jen Sugden and Phil Cotterill

HOW many comedians does it take to hold a festival?

We’ll find out at the end of this month when Oxford holds its first such laughfest.

The Oxford Comedy Festival has been set up by The Dead Secrets, whose members say they realised there was no dedicated festival for comedy.

University lecturer Jen Sugden, co-organiser of the comedy group, said: “We have been to other festivals in other cities – Edinburgh and London and so on.

“We thought: why didn’t Oxford have one of those? So we decided to set one up.”

The troupe formed in 2012 and have received rave reviews nationwide.

Also taking part in the festival will be Impromptu Shakespeare, who improvise an entire Shakespeare play in just one hour.

Member Daniel Roberts said: “It is quite exciting because it’s our home town.”

OXFORD’S comedy connections have been impressive for many years.
The Glee Club in Hythe Bridge Street is a key venue for performances, with comedy club shows every Saturday.
And over the years, top comedians have performed regularly at the New Theatre in George Street as part of the Childish Things fundraiser for Helen and Douglas House Hospice.
Top comics who have turned up include Rowan Atkinson, Bill Bailey, Graham Norton and Rob Brydon.
John Lloyd, the creator of Blackadder, QI and Spitting Image, lives near Wantage.

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Mr Bean star Rowan Atkinson lives in Waterperry near Thame, while Love Actually film director Richard Curtis was a student at Oxford University’s Christ Church college and lives in Abingdon.And the festival will feature respected acts including BAFTA-shortlisted comedy writer Briony Redman and Funny Women 2013 finalist Elf Lyons.

One of the festival performers is actor and comedian David Reed, who is one third of BBC Radio 4 comedy troupe The Penny Dreadfuls.

He said: “It’s really encouraging to see local comedy festivals like this, where people can see shows they may otherwise not have had access to.”

The Oxford Comedy Festival is taking place on March 29 at the Old Fire Station Theatre.

Tickets cost £14.

Money will be raised for the Disasters Emergency Committee and Oxford-based charity Pathway Workshop.

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