What are you going to in the Galway Comedy Festival?

“THE MOST wasted of all days is one without laughter,” said the poet e e cummings, so don’t let the October Bank Holiday Weekend go to waste, as there are seven days of laughter to be had at the Bulmers Galway Comedy Festival.

The comedy festival runs from Tuesday October 22 to Monday 28 and will see more than 50 Irish, Britain, and North American comedians performing across 13 different venues in the city.

Among the highlights will be Sean Lock (8 Out of 10 Cats, QI, Mock The Week ) who will present his show Purple Van Man in the Black Box Theatre on Sunday October 27 and Monday 28.

So what is a ‘purple van man’? In an interview with entertainment.ie, Sean explained: “I believe the term ‘white van man’ isn't as common over here but it refers to an ordinary man’s opinion of what’s going on. It’s a blue collar opinion of what's going on. I just thought I don’t have a normal approach to a lot of subjects so I thought, Oh, ‘purple van man’.”

Another of the big shows will be Russell Howard, who plays three dates at the festival. He headlines the g Suite at the g Hotel on Tuesday 22 and the Town Hall Theatre on Thursday 24. He will also be on a bill with Lee Mack, Phill Jupitus, Mike Wilmot, and Eric Lawlor in the Seapoint Ballroom on Wednesday 23.

Russell is best known for his BBC 3 show Russell Howard’s Good News, which takes a clever and hilarious look at the absurd stories and events in the news, as well as the oddities of media reporting.

The great Omid Djalili, whose credits include everything from The Infidel and Gladiator to Sky’s Little Cracker, and Moneysupermarket ads, will play two shows at the festival. Both take place in the g Suite of the g Hotel on Sunday 27. The first show is at 7.30pm and the second is at 9.30pm.

An intelligent, politically aware comic, there is, as The Daily Telegraph said, “a thread of characteristically good-natured subversiveness” in his comedy, but also “an appetite for mischief is thankfully as keen as ever”, ensuring the broadest possible audience for his humour.

Police Academy’s Michael Winslow, whose vocal talents can recreate everything from the sound of an electric guitar to jet fighters taking off, has thrilled Galway audiences with his previous visits to the city, and will do so again at his upcoming comedy festival show.

He will headline a bill in the Seapoint Ballroom on Saturday 26 that also includes the Eddie Pepitone, Bernard O’Shea, Jason Byrne, and comedy hip-hop improv duo Abandoman.

Lee Mack, the star of Not Going Out and Would I Lie to You? will headline two shows at the festival - Seapoint Ballroom (Wednesday 23 ) and Róisín Dubh (Thursday 24 ). Writing about his comedy, The Guardian said:

“Everything Mack does – every daft one-liner, every smirk, slip-up, and sprawl across the stage – is bent on laughs. He struts back and forth restlessly, as if geeing himself up, and engages in infuriating (to him ) exchanges with the audience. Like the Irish comic Jason Byrne, he uses interplay with his crowd to establish a feedback loop of funny, until – as if he was comedy’s King Midas – everyone becomes hilarious by dint of his speaking to them.”

Scottish comic Kevin Bridges will play the Radisson Live Lounge on Sunday 27. Since emerging on the scene in 2004, Kevin has enjoyed great success and critical acclaim. The Scotsman called him “the best Scottish stand up of his generation”; The Times said he “displays a poise and ability to connect with a crowd that is remarkable for any performer”; while Chortle.co.uk said he is “so natural, so unaffected, is his style that it hardly seems written at all”.

Stewart Lee, one of the most outstanding comics of his generation, makes a very welcome return to Galway, where he will perform his new show Much A-Stew About Nothing in the Róisín Dubh on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23.

The always popular The Faulty Towers Dining Experience, where scenes from the classic TV series will be recreated while audiences are served dinner by Basil, Sybil, and Manuel, takes place in The Salthill Hotel at 7.30pm on Friday October 25 and Saturday 26.

Also at the festival will be the ever popular improv group Whose Line Is It Anyway? and the Set List shows. In the latter, comedians are given a word or topic, which may be real or made up - past examples are ‘biscuit holocaust’ or ‘mistake wisdom’ - and from that they have to create a comedy set off the top of their head.

Also check out Frank Sanazi, whose stage act combines elements of Frank Sinatra, Adolf Hitler, and Las Vegas schmaltz, and the Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolfe III, who will preach the virtues of Christianity and heavy metal. See them at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Kelly’s on Thursday 24.

There will also be shows from English comedy sketch group Pappys (An Taibhdhearc, Saturday 26, 9.30pm ); the surreal stylings and outrageous hair of Tony Law (An Taibhdhearc, Friday 25, 9.30pm );

David O’Doherty will perform his show, David O’Doherty Will Try To Fix Everything on Saturday October 26 in the Róisín Dubh. He will also headline a show at the Town Hall Theatre on Friday 25.

There will also be shows and sets from Eddie Pepitone, Eddie Brill, Paul Currie, Glenn Wool, Sam Lloyd, Phil Nichol, Andrew Maxwell, Neil Delamere, Maeve Higgins, Colin Murphy, Barry Murphy, Bernard O’Shea, Karl Spain, Jarlath Regan, London based Aisling Bea (who recently appeared on Seann Walsh’s Comedy Spectacular ), the stars of Father Ted, The Nualas, Kevin Gildea, Joe Rooney, Eleanor Tiernan, Eric Lalor, Colm O’Regan, Chris Kent, John Colleary, Fred Cooke, Galway’s Stephen Bennett, and the brilliant young sketch group Foil Arms & Hog,

All shows are at 8pm unless otherwise stated. Tickets are available from the Town Hall Theatre (091 - 569777, www.tht.ie ); OMG, Shop Street; SuperValu and Centra stores; and www.BulmersGalway ComedyFestival.com

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