Belfast Telegraph

Here's a festival to put a smile on your face

By Nuala McKeever

I was quite the gadabout last Thursday. Went from launching the 2nd Annual Bellylaughs Comedy Festival (Sept 25-Oct 6) to attending the launch of the 4th Annual Culture Night (Sept 20). Laughter and Culture. Two things we think we have a special handle on in this part of the world.

It's heartening to see that there are loads of people here who don't define culture as flags and emblems and who see laughter as something that can amuse without being cynical.

Bellylaughs.com is our only dedicated comedy festival, among myriad festivals in NI. The range of shows is staggering, considering the organisation is new and mostly funded by sales of tickets. There is something for everyone from Ruby Wax and Stewart Lee, to improv workshops for children and Belfast Comedy Bus Tours.

In between there's cabaret in Irish, a night devoted to puns, silent comedy films and one show I'll have to see because the taster session at the launch was brilliant – George Firehorse – a mad, close-up magician with great skills, dodgy jokes, an infectious smile and the most luxurious moustache since Mungo Jerry. As Winston Churchill said when he was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, "Then what are we fighting for? Science and politics may make our life possible. The arts make it worth living."

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