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Kilby WI

I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.

So said our April speaker Geoff Rowe, quoting Maya Angelou. In his entertaining talk on ‘25 Years of the Leicester Comedy Festival.’ Geoff told us how, as a teenager, he livened up his rather dull village by organising several successful music gigs.

Geoff had to arrange an event as part of his Arts Administration degree. Stand-up comedy was popular at the time, so he and some friends decided to organise the first Leicester Comedy Festival in 1993. They had no contacts with any comedians or producers, but lots of enthusiasm!

5,000 people attended 30 venues beginning an annual event that has attracted famous names like Jo Brand, Jason Manford and Johnny Vegas; Geoff also secured the services of Norman Wisdom and Tony Slattery as Patrons in the early days.

Geoff related some great stories about comedians he has met over the years; memorably being badly bitten by Ken Dodd’s poodle, and drinking tea in the Belmont with Barry Cryer and having a lady come over and insisting that she knew Barry from when he lived off Uppingham Road!

The Leicester Comedy Festival has helped to promote diversity, encourage new and emerging talent, raise the city’s profile as well as a lot of laughs. It goes from strength to strength with Geoff at the helm - in 2019, 135,000 people attended 850 shows in 72 venues. Geoff doesn’t intend to step down any time soon,so Leicester will be laughing for many years to come.

Kilby WI meet in Kilby Chapel on the third Thursday of each month; for further details please phone Ann Stuart on (0116) 240 2514.

Kathryn Parker
Issue 412
May 2019

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