The Cambridge Comedy Festival was launched in 2007 by the Jesterlarf Comedy Club with the aim of recreating a micro version of the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival experience in Cambridge. Its unique appeal is that it is a Festival of Previews and brings a host of names known and unknown to the city for a pre-Edinburgh warm-up. Audiences get the rare opportunity to see some of the biggest names in comedy and finest emerging talent in an intimate venue as they hone their shows for Edinburgh and beyond and iron out any rough edges. Cambridge is not a city that needs to worry about its place on the comedy map. Given the array of talent it’s fostered over the years from Peter Cook plus Eric Idle and John Cleese of Monty Python, through to Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and present day stars David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Olivia Coleman, Sandi Toksvig, Sue Perkins, Jimmy Carr, Simon Bird and Tim Key. Therefore, at festival HQ we have done our best to continue this grand tradition of hilarious comedic brilliance.
Here’s a run down of some of the highlights:
2007 With 14 shows over 4 days that included emerging talent Rhod Gilbert, Reginald D Hunter, Micky Flanagan and Perrier Award winner Phil Nichol.
2008 With 22 shows over 7 days we welcomed back Rhod, Reginald and Phil and talented and as yet unknown acts Russell Howard, Andrew Lawrence and Jon Richardson. We also ran a series of shows on punts on the river called Silly Punts.
2009 With 50 shows over 11 days we had comedy legend Arthur Smith and Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon. Rhod Gilbert and Micky Flanagan returned but this time as theatre filling household names. We had debuts from brilliant newcomers Sarah Millican, Jack Whitehall and Russell Kane.
2010 With 40 shows over 4 days we welcomed back Jack Whitehall and Jon Richardson – now recognised award winning comedians and the phenomenal Michael Winslow from the Police Academy films. With debuts from Mark Watson and comedy superstar in the making Kevin Bridges.
2011 With 28 shows over 4 days we had a long overdue return to stand-up from Phil Jupitus and the dynamic and unique Showstoppers. There were debuts from rising stars Josh Widdicombe and Daniel Sloss.
2012 With 50 shows over 6 days we had festival debuts from David O’Doherty, Steven K Amos and Adam Buxton plus rising stars Nick Helm, Paul Chowdry and Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Daniel Simonsen. We welcomed back Phil Jupitus and Edinburgh stalwarts Richard Herring and Andrew Lawrence and were treated to a comedy legend when Mike McShane performed as part of the Comedy Store Players and Ardal O’Hanlon took a detour to Cambridge whilst on holiday – with family in tow – to come and perform at the 11th hour when one of the acts fell ill and couldn’t make it…My Hero!
2013 With 30 shows over 6 days and to celebrate ten years of the Jesterlarf Comedy Club comedy legend Dylan Moran headlined a special Gala show. There were festival debuts from Ed Byrne, Seann Walsh and Cambridge comedian David Trent. We launched our kids shows with the Amazing Bubbleman from California.
2014 With 30 shows over 6 days we welcomed back Josh Widdicombe and Russell Kane – now household names. Plus festival debuts from HQ favourite and comedy legend Tommy Tiernan plus Simon Amstell and rising star Romesh Ranganathan.
2015 With 26 shows over 6 days we welcomed back festival regulars Mark Watson, Matthew Crosby, Andrew Maxwell and Richard Herring. There were debuts from rising stars Rob Beckett, Joel Dommett and Dane Baptiste plus circuit veterans Dave Johns, Nick Revel and Kevin Day.
2016 With 34 shows over 5 days and to celebrate ten years of the festival we moved to the picturesque Jesus Green for some alfresco comedy with the Cambridge Junction and Cambridge Edition tents and the Jesterlarf Gala Marquee. We welcomed back Reginald D Hunter and Phil Nichol who performed at the first festival back in 2007. There were festival debuts from Milton Jones, Henning When, Joe Lycett and Josie Long plus rising stars Tom Lucy, Sophie Hagen and Tez Illyas.
2017 With 50 shows over 5 days the festival returned to the picturesque Jesus Green. There were festival debuts from Rob Kemp as The Elvis Dead, Lauren Pattison and Jordan Brookes who were all Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees and John Robins who went on to win the Edinburgh Comedy Award. Joe lycett, Henning Wehn, Sara Pascoe and Ed Byrne all returned to entertain the crowds and there was a welcome return from Nick Helm, Abandoman and Tom Stade who hadn’t appeared at the festival for many years. There were some fantastic kids shows and an inspired impromptu comedy in the dark from Jarred Christmas & Hobbit with their Mighty Kids Beat-Box Game Show after a huge electrical storm wiped out the site power. The one and only Bob Slayer brought his beloved Blundabus Brenda to the festival and kept everyone young and old entertained all week.
Thanks for supporting live comedy!