What Is a Comedy Festival?

Lee Johnson

A comedy festival is an event which usually takes place across a particular city which features numerous comedic acts performing over a set period of days. These kinds of festivals usually take place across various venues, and each show usually has an individual ticket price. Some of the most famous festivals are the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, Canada, the Edinburgh Fringe festival in Scotland, and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in Australia. Many comedic acts with differing fan bases perform at the same festival, and guests choose which shows they hope to visit. Comedy festivals feature stand up comedians, short films, theatre performances, and even musical comedy.

Comedy festivals often feature comedians in short films.
Comedy festivals often feature comedians in short films.

The basic definition of a comedy festival is an event at which many humorous acts perform over the course of a weekend or longer. Famous comedians often include dates at a comedy festival as part of a larger tour, and amateur performers are also often given the opportunity to perform. Some comedy festivals, such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, also offer awards to top performers.

Comedy festivals often feature stand up comedians.
Comedy festivals often feature stand up comedians.

The layout of a comedy festival is usually spread out across various venues. For this reason, guests can buy tickets to individual performers they are interested in, rather than buying a single ticket which covers all performances, as would occur with some other types of festivals. Most comedy festivals aim to choose venues within walking distance of each other, but some can be more spread out. More famous comedians generally perform at larger venues within the festival town or city.

Many countries and cities across the world host a comedy festival. Famous ones include Smithwick’s Cat Laughs Festival in Ireland and Leicester Comedy Festival in England. Many comedians use performances at large festivals to increase their fan base and open up more touring opportunities for the future. Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival is one of the most famous comedy festivals, which has enjoyed regular crowds in the millions.

Different types of acts can perform at a comedy festival, as long as they mean to make the audience laugh. Ordinarily, stand up comedians are the most common type of performer. Other performances such as humorous theatre productions and films also have a place at most festivals. Comedy songwriters are frequent performers at events, and any other genre of comedy is also acceptable. People often differ wildly in their comedic tastes, so most festivals aim to offer a variety of comedic acts to please a wider audience.

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