The idea for a comedy festival in Glasgow first emerged in 2002 when the organisers of the city’s Stand Comedy Club approached the city council with a proposal. The club, started two years earlier, had exceeded everyone’s expectations and was now open seven nights a week with a loyal and growing local audience base. This, combined with an excellent collection of venues and a worldwide reputation for being a city with a great sense of humour, made Glasgow an obvious place to have a comedy festival. The council’s economic development team were supportive and asked for a detailed plan.
The Scottish Comedy Agency drew up plans for a pilot festival backed by most of the city’s major arts venues and promoters. This was held in March 2003. It proved an overwhelming success and there was a unanimous view to make the festival a regular event.
The festival receives support from media, travel and hotel partners – as well as official bodies such as EventScotland and the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau - all of whom work together to make it the biggest dedicated comedy festival in Europe.
From the outset the festival had clear objectives. To provide a first class entertainment programme for the city’s residents, to ensure that there was variety and value allowing all sections of the community to take part, and to help put Glasgow on the map as one of the world’s leading cities and must-visit destinations.
Fifteen years on and these objectives are still at the heart of what we do. The festival has grown bigger each year and now involves over 40 venues with more than 400 shows across 18 days. Big household names are in the programme alongside new rising talent.
We have acts who deliberately push the boundaries of contemporary comedy in the same programme as entertainers with a more traditional family appeal. Most of all, we go out of our way to showcase the new breed of home-grown comics and to build on the comedy infrastructure which has been nurtured in Scotland in the last decade.