Laughs galore as Glasgow becomes the world’s comedy capital

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IF laughter’s the best medicine then prepare to be cured of all ills as the 2011 Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival is the biggest ever.

This year’s chuckle-fest kicks off on March 17 and runs for 25 days, with over 115,000 tickets available for more than 400 shows

Over 50 venues are involved, from the 9000-capacity SECC to a range of intimate club and cabaret rooms.

Now in its ninth year, the festival has helped catapult the city on to the map as a destination for top-class entertainment.

The programme features spectacular stand-up, sketch, film, cabaret, music, theatre, workshops, children’s and (for the first year) opera performances.

The current crop of TV comics like John Bishop, Stephen K Amos, Ed Byrne, Tim Vine and I’m a Celebrity’s Jenny Eclair will be proving that comedy is always better live. And international headliner Caroline Rhea leaves Sabrina the Teenage Witch behind for her first love of stand-up comedy.

Having announced he will give up touring, Frankie Boyle will be back for his only live show of 2011 at the King’s Theatre to raise money for the Palestine Legal Aid Fund. Other comics with a point to make include Glasgow’s own king of controversy Jerry Sadowitz (who’s already added an extra show due to popular demand) and seasoned campaigner Mark Thomas.

The popular Celebrity Autobiography show comes to Glasgow bringing with it stars such Siobhan Redmond and Rufus Hound.

Exciting new entertainment is on offer as art forms cross over creating new performance styles. George Monbiot fuses political oratory with stand up comedy, Professor Brian Cox offers the witty side of science in Uncaged Monkeys and the late night Cabaret Noir combines circus skill, sensual burlesque and searing stand-up in a late night variety extravaganza.

Following the success of last year’s international performers, high-flying Australian flight attendant Pam Ann and hard-hitting US comic Doug Stanhope lead the posse of international visitors which includes 14 Americans, seven Canadians and two Germans.

Tommy Sheppard, director of the Scottish Comedy Agency, the company behind the festival, said: “The festival is becoming one of the most anticipated events on Scotland’s cultural calendar and the calibre of acts is a fantastic reflection of this.

“This year is bigger and better than ever before and with a range from Frank Carson to Frankie Boyle we really do have something for everyone.”

Conor Hardy, sponsorship manager for Magners, said: “We’re looking forward to another successful year as headline sponsor of the Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival. The festival is growing stronger each year, with growth in the number of tickets sold and the number of venues taking part, making it an important association for the Magners brand.”

Full details of all the shows in this year’s programme go to where you can also sign up for the e-newsletter for first news on shows and ticket offers.

The festival hotline is 0844 395 4005.