Birmingham Comedy Festival: It's a festival about comedy in Birmingham

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Laughter reduces stress. It's science, yo. So we're mandating mirth for you hard-working lot virtue of Birmingham Comedy Festival, the annual 10-day city-wide chuckle-thang. From the very well known to some newer names, these be the gigs you'll need to book now. Ah, but it's not actually on until October — so stress-wise, you're on your own until then. HUGS

Joe Lycett, Oct 11, Town Hall
See Joe in conversation with fellow Brummie, Jess Phillips MP, herself no stranger to funny thanks to her appearance on the excellent Unspun With Matt Forde on Dave. And if you’ve never seen Lycett, you should really change that. He’s been favourably compared to both Frankie Howerd and Larry Grayson, and has much in common with, say, Peter Kay or Victoria Wood in that he is simply imbued with humour. Every exasperated facial expression and catty quip makes him one of the circuit’s brightest stars and a truly special talent. £18. More

Matt Lucas, Oct 14, Town Hall
A book reading from his new autobiography rather than straight stand-up, given the hugely likable Lucas was born to perform, it still promises to be special. After all, what a life: from Reeves & Mortimer in the Nineties, to breakout success with Little Britain in the Noughties (when Gary from accounts is using the catchphrase “I want that one”, you know something has seeped into the popular consciousness), in recent years he’s chalked up a raft of TV and film credits which are bound to make his bio a barnstormer. £18 to £23. More

Greg Davies, Oct 10, Symphony Hall
Much of Davies’ charm comes from his everyman appeal. Like Mickey Flanagan before him, Davies has a face that looks like it’s seen some stuff. He's the master of turning his toe-curling past into comedy gold, and here there’s a standout anecdote about a toy from his childhood which you’ll be talking about on the way home. Like Flanagan, the avuncular Davies lived a life before getting into LOL (as a drama teacher), while fame came to him relatively late, all of which makes him that bit more relatable. £30.50. More

Jayde Adams, Oct 13, Glee
Jayde Adams’ new show is all about acceptance and fitting in, but if her breakthrough year is anything to go by, she’s been embraced with open arms. This bombastic, charismatic performer has displayed her prowess as a comedy actress in sitcom Borderline, in her own short for Sky Arts, and as a comedy tour de force on 8 Out Of 10 Cats — which has proved to be a springboard for so many emerging acts. Perhaps not as well known as others in this list, so a golden opportunity to get on board as the bandwagon gains momentum. £12. More

Simon Day, Oct 15, Glee
You probably know the name, but it’s only when you see his distinctive hangdog face that the penny truly drops: yes, it’s him from The Fast Show and, more recently, Brian Pern. Day makes a welcome return to live performing, showcasing four of his best-loved characters: pub bore Billy Bleach (remember him screaming “Puma!” on a pub quiz machine in The Fast Show), unpublished poet Geoffrey Allerton, Tony Beckton — one of Britain’s most-dangerous men — and the fictional god of prog rock, Brian Pern. Sadly, no Cockney eco warrior Dave Angel. £20. More

Zoe Lyons, Jonny Awsum and Kate Smurthwaite, Oct 12, The Bramall
Some acts want to challenge audiences, make them think in new and exciting ways. Laughter? Ha. That’s merely a bonus. And then there’s Jonny Awsum, a man born to entertain. Expect sing-a-longs, feelgood songs and a damned good time. There’s also Zoe Lyons (pictured), who possesses a positively Wodehouseian knack for understanding the human condition, while being one of the best comedians working today. Political laughs come from Question Timepundit Kate Smurthwaite. £10. More

Simon Amstell, Oct 15, Town Hall
Even though Simon Amstell’s stand-up isn’t what you might expect, you must catch him live. He is a terrific comedian, tonally closer to, say, early Woody Allen than the young scamp who enjoyed making rock stars’ blood boil on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. His fifth solo tour promises to be heartfelt, profound and – don’t worry – very funny indeed, even if his deep outlook is a world away from his break out performances in Channel 4's Sunday morning hangover sootherPopworld (yep - he's that guy). £26. More

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