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It’s the 25th Anniversary of the “Best Little Comedy Festival In The World”!

The Kilkenny Cat Laughs Comedy Festival is back for it’s silver jubilee and is shaping up to be one of the most exciting line-ups ever – a smorgasbord of quality Irish and International comics for your June Bank Holiday weekend.

The full programme is now live and tickets on sale at www.thecatlaughs.com.

The highlights for the 25th anniversary of the festival will see comedy giants Tommy Tiernan, Dylan Moran, Dara O’Briain, Alison Spittle, David O’Doherty, Jason Byrne, Joanne McNally & Ed Byrne gracing the Cat Laughs stage. We’ve an abundant list of Irish talent including Neil Delamere, Barry MurphyKarl Spain, Andrew Maxwell, Eleanor Tiernan, Colm O’Regan, Chris Kent, Colin Murphy, Kevin McGahern, Fred Cooke, Julie Jay, Gearoid Farrelly and many more.

Our impressive international line up is not to be missed with The Mash Reports’ Nish Kumar, Live At the Apollo’s Angela Barnes, Edinburgh comedy award winner Rose Mattafeo, everyone’s favourite curmudgeon Rich Hall, Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ Phill Jupitus, QI’s Alan Davies, Mock The Week’s Zoe Lyons, PLUS Lucy Porter, Jena Friedman, Fred MacAuley, Jo Caulfield, Comedians Comedy Award winner in Edinburgh Lou Sanders, Rosie Jones, Sam Campbell, Jamali Maddix & Glasgow’s new rising star Larry Dean.

We are proud to announce that the weird and wonderful STRAY is back with returning Barry Award Nominees The Bear Pack, improv performers of a near-divine level of inspiration. STRAY will also see the return of the much loved Soho Theatre, London’s most vibrant venue for new theatre, comedy and cabaret featuring an eclectic mix of acts including hip hop maestro Abandoman, the dragtasic La Gateaux Chocolat, Cabaret Queens Kiri Pritchard, Desiree Burch, Lucy PearmanJayde Adams & the fabulousAMusical.

After the success of their sold out Vicar St. debut, Dreamgun Film Reads will present their skewed, joke-stuffed & wholly unrehearsed take on cinematic classics. For their special Cat Laughs performance they are set to tackle Spielberg’s classic “JAWS” – will you be afraid to go back into the water?!!

And that’s not all!We have Karl Spain’s Hilarious Walking Tour,The Adam Hills Chat Show (you never know who will drop by!), the much-loved Improv Allstars &a double-header show with online sensations Tony Cantwell and Mawaan Rizwan

Kilkenny Cat Laughs are always keen to support up and coming comedic talent. Find out who’s the next sh*t hot thing in comedy at ‘The Rockies’, thanks to our sponsors Coors Light. Six of Ireland’s and the UK’s top up and coming comics will make the pilgrimage to the Cat Laughs in a whole host of venues and pubs across the city. This year’s acts feature the hilarious EGG fresh from top reviews in Edinburgh Fringe; Just These, Please, who have 22 million views for their sketches online, BBC New Comedy Award 2018 and Scottish Comedian of the Year Stephen Buchanan, Funny Women Finalist Abigoliah Schamaun, and home grown talent with the gas Ruth Hunter and Shane Daniel Byrne. Each ‘Rockie’ will do a preview with some on the road to Edinburgh Fringe, Dublin Fringe or a further afield and then each will perform in ‘The Rockies Awards’ on the Sunday night. Last years acts Maisie Adam and Sara Barron went on to be nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! Which of this year’s 6 will make you laugh your Rockies off!?

For more details click on our website which is now live at www.thecatlaughs.com

All Tickets on sale now from www.thecatlaughs.com

Check out at www.facebook.com/kilkennycatlaughs / www.twitter.com/catlaughscomedy and instagram.com/thecatlaughs

A personal word from founder Richard Cooke after 25 years of The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

I don’t remember much about the first Cat Laughs, Kilkenny, which grew out of a local theatre company called Bickerstaffe. I was mostly in a trance state with a CD of Moby’s Everything is Wrong thumping loudly on repeat in the John Street office. I remember smoking a lot, having arguments about whether to put ‘Ireland’ or the ‘Republic of Ireland’ on the contracts; the actor Frankie McCafferty paying for tickets with a credit card, which in 1995 struck me as the poshest thing imaginable and finding the brilliant Jeremy Hardy asleep in a hedge outside the Newpark Hotel. I remember Emo Philips sporting a bizarre 3-D monkey on a t-shirt which he wore religiously; Sean Hughes being the brightest Irish star by a mile and Jo Brand shocking her audience at the Watergate Theatre. And I remember being taken aback by the numbers on Parliament street swilling beer and blocking traffic on Friday night; I distractedly handed Woody Harrelson – over to support his mate George Wendt – a 14-page fax at the bar in The Kilford Arms (faxes were everything), oblivious to who he was; but mostly I remember comics at the back of gigs watching other comics and I remember that we sold very few tickets.

 It was a tad FyreFest-y, albeit with acts.

 I have infinitely more memories from the 1996 festival – sans Moby – probably because we used that festival to pay off the first one. There were other reasons too, most notably with Murphy’s coming on board as title sponsors; Kilkenny with the Smithwick’s brewery at its foot, was a ‘Guinness-product-only’ city at the time and publicans simply didn’t believe me when I made the announcement about Murphy’s. I remember sitting down with Eamon Langton in his bar. He looked at me straight in the eye as a mischievous smile crept over his face and leaning in conspiratorially, he chuckled: “there’ll be trouble ahead”.

 And boy was there trouble.

 The Guinness guys pulled out all the stops in an effort to muscle their way back – Murphy’s not overly concerning them, but Heineken worrying them a lot – but I was nervous about Cat Laughs being effectively owned by the national drink company and after all, a deal is a deal.

 1996 was also significant because Bill Murray showed up to perform with his two brothers and basically put the festival on the international map. Word had got around that there was a comedy festival somewhere in Ireland which was fun to play and where there were no awards, reviews or TV recording (arguably the best set of decisions that we made from the outset). At this time, the only comedy festivals that seemed to matter were Montreal with short seven-minute TV-friendly sets, the Edinburgh Fringe with 50-60 minute sets and Melbourne with a similar format. At Cat Laughs, we basically asked three headline acts to share the 80 odd minutes between them with a host to link. It’s a format which really worked and still works today. There were some hour long shows of course (Johnny Vegas, Will Durst, Jo Brand, John Shuttleworth), but they were the exception rather than the rule.

The bigger issue was which comedian would open and which would close. It’s almost hard to believe that in 1995 and 1996, no Irish comedian, apart from Sean Hughes, could close a set in Kilkenny. Punters in those early years paid to see UK and American acts. Scroll on 5 years later and you’d lose half of your crowd if the Irish comedian was done before the show finished. So, while the Cat Laughs may not have produced any Irish comedians, it undoubtedly provided the platform for Irish stand-ups to realise that they were as good as their American and British counterparts: the festival gave them huge confidence. To see comedians like Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan and Ardal O’Hanlon et al rip up the Edinburgh festival in the late 90s was incredibly exciting and I believe the festival had its part to play in that.

 In 1997, we had a load of tents as venues, which was a big mistake, but we also had Mitch Hedberg, which was glorious.

1998-2006 is blurry. I was still programming it, but I’d run out of steam and it was definitely time for a new face: enter Eddie Bannon. Eddie took the reins from 2006-2009, Rebecca Austin from 2010-2012, Naoise Nunn from 2013-2016. Now it’s Matt Smyth and Dan Colley at the helm.

 Consistently handing over the baton has undoubtedly helped to keep the festival fresh, alive and just about solvent, even through the tough recession period. I think this is because the Cat Laughs has always been a commercial proposition, run like an arts festival and audiences have really responded to this approach. While there is no doubt that comedy festivals all over the world are utterly unrecognisable today from their original incarnation, that’s not the case with Cat Laughs. This presents its own set of challenges of course, but there’s a real merit to remaining obstinate, steadfast, singular; to continue placing stand-up comedy at the heart of a festival, which takes place in a bunch of sweaty rooms in Kilkenny.

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