Galway Comedy Festival: When the darkest nights provide the biggest laughs
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Galway Comedy Festival: When the darkest nights provide the biggest laughs

As the days get shorter and the nights grow darker, the laughter is set to grow louder and longer as the countdown begins to Galway Comedy Festival 2023. Ireland’s largest comedy festival is back from Tuesday 24 to Monday 30 October and during those seven days, Galway city will once again reassert its status as the nation’s Comedy Capital.

Featuring John Bishop and Jim Jefferies, #GCF23 line-up is the most ambitious yet from Ireland’s largest comedy festival.

The line-up for the 2023 festival is arguably the most ambitious in the event’s near 20-year history - a fact underlined by Jim Jefferies’ three appearances at Leisureland (Wednesday 25th to Friday 27th), with his new show Give ‘Em What They Want. These shows have already got Galway comedy fans buzzing with excitement, and no wonder. This is the man Chortle described as “the very definition of roguish charm”, while hailed the Aussie’s comedy as “boundary-pushing”. While he attracts equal parts acclaim and controversy, his material is about being belief-challenging, thought-provoking, and giving audiences as much to chew over as to laugh out loud about. This is why he won Stand-Up Comedian of the Year at the 2019 Just for Laughs Festival, and has ten stand up specials to his name. The most recent, High & Dry, came out on Netflix earlier this year.

John Bishop is another major name coming to the festival, headlining three mixed bill nights at Leisureland and the Black Box Theatre - as well as an appearance at the Late Night KARLnival in Róisín Dubh. One of the most loved comedians on the circuit today, he may have Ireland to thank for his current success. “Ireland is probably the reason that I do the job I do,” the Liverpudlian has said. “When I started doing stand-up I came to Ireland and I just sort of gelled with the idea of doing it the way I do - telling stories.”

Jefferies and Bishop are just the start of the staggering roster of 70 international stars, homegrown comedy greats, and emerging talent performing at 69 shows, across 17 Galway venues during #GCF23. Among these will be a series of brilliant mixed bill shows at Leisureland, The Black Box and The Hardiman Hotel in Eyre Square, with line-ups including David McSavage, Enya Martin, Reginald D Hunter, Glenn Wool, Al Porter, Jimeoin, Rhys Darby, John Bishop, Ardal O’Hanlon, Kevin McAleer, Milton Jones, Seann Walsh, and Deirdre O’Kane.

The Town Hall Theatre will host solo shows from festival favourites, Reginald D Hunter and Rich Hall; Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords, Jumanji) performing the favourite material from his 25 year comedy career; a rare visit from Omid Djalili (The Mummy, Mamma Mia 2); and shows from Irish greats Al Porter and Jimeoin.

above: Omid Djalili

Róisín Dubh, the home of comedy in the west and Festival HQ, is the location for the Bulmers Festival Club, the Late Night KARLnival, and solo shows, including sold-out nights from Serena Terry and John Colleary; a new show from the brilliant Danny O’Brien; and the debut solo show from Polish-language TikTok sensation, Mama Na Obrotach. Social media sensation Enya Martin and record-breaking Aussie, Elena Gabrielle, perform at The Loft at Seven, while Emma Doran’s work-in-progress show there has already sold-out. Also check out the weekend afternoon showcases filled with exciting emerging talent.

In a new departure for #GCF23, it will have its own Artist-in-Residence: the legendary Phill Jupitus. Phill is currently studying for a degree in fine art at Dundee University, and it is these skills Galway will see in action at Phill’s new show, Sketch Comic. There he will interview a comedian, while he and the audience sketch what they see.

Galway is a city that loves to party and #GCF23 has all the ingredients for a good time with Comedy Club Crawls; interactive dinner theatre from Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience; burlesque and cabaret from The Dirty Circus; Gáire as Gaeilge hosted by Hector Ó hEochagáin; Ireland’s Smallest Comedy Club; and family friendly comedy and magic shows!

Galway Comedy Festival is seven days of mirth, mischief, and madness, a time of big comedy stars, and exciting emerging talent, the perfect opportunity to laugh long and loud, despite the dark nights and colder weather drawing in. For full information and tickets see #GCF23

Words by Kernan Andrews.
All photos courtesy of Galway Comedy Festival.

above: John Bishop

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