EP 25 – Geoff Rowe – Founder of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival

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Total run time: 1 hour 38 mins 17 secs.

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About Geoff Rowe…

Geoff Rowe co-founded the Leicester Comedy Festival while at University as a project for his degree. Since then, he’s enjoyed it so much, he’s carried on running it. His belief that a festival should be more than “a collection of shows that could take place anywhere” has made his festival community-led and quirky.

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Here’s a list of questions we covered…

Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival

  • The history of the festival. – Uni project [5 mins 25 sec]
    • What would you have done differently if you were founding it today? More tech? More community ?
  • When the festival started the phrase “comedy is the new rock n roll” was being being said. Do you think these shows lose something as comedy that is played in more intimate venues is often much more enjoyable? Do you try and keep the venue sizes a good mix at the Leicester Comedy Festival? [34 mins 20 secs]
  • What was Leicester like before the Festival started comedy wise? [26 mins 50 mins]
  • What do audiences like to see during the festival? [24 mins 30 secs]
  • What shows does he want to see more of at the Festival? [26 mins 00 secs]
  • How involved in the local circuit are you? [38 mins 07 secs]
  • Are you involved in the Fringe Alliance? [38 mins 08 secs]
  • Do you pick what shows go into the Festival? Does Dave have any say in who can / can’t perform? [27 mins 55 secs]
  • How to promote a gig in Leicester when you don’t live there. [40 mins 25 mins]
  • What’s the Free Fringe like and is it viable to run a free show in Leicester? [44 mins 20 secs]
  • What is an average run at the Leicester Comedy Festival? How long should performers come for? [51 mins 32 secs]
  • How do you think the festival has impacted Leicester’s view of comedy?
  • Do you think the festival has help build a circuit of gigs around Leicester?
    • How involved in the circuit are you?
  • Promoting a show in a city you don’t live in. Any advice on local publicity?
  • What are the do’s / don’ts when it comes to promotion?
  • You don’t operate a Free Fringe model. Why? And do you think that excludes some acts?
  • What is the circuit like outside of the Festival? [17 mins 50 mins]
  • Why does the festival take place in February? [14 mins 10 secs]
  • How do you keep local interest in the festival for the whole duration? [50 mins 45 secs]
  • I’ve been told about the “Best of Leicester Comedy Festival tour” how does that operate and what do you look for in that? [49 mins 37 secs]
  • I read a quote about the festival on the Make Me Happy website – “They’ve become much more than a comedy festival. They’ve also been able to project comedy as a vehicle for strong community and social messages” The Times
    Which I love. Big on community. I’d love to hear more about the Make Me Happy project and how it came about. [54 mins 09 secs]
  • How do you sustain public interest in the festival and support acts? It’s not done at a time of the year where people are on holiday etc. Maybe half term week.
  • In my research I saw you said that you picked the title of the festival very specifically because all three words mattered and in particular “Festival”. Why is that? [11 mins 00 secs]
  • Be interested to know what he thinks of how comedy has changed over the years, from the perspective of a festival directors POV.
  • What milestones were there in the history of the festival that made it as big as it is now? Was there anything you’d do differently if you did it again? [1 hour 16 mins 38 secs]

Dave’s Sponsorship

  • I suppose it was quite organic then to add a 4th word to the title when you got sponsorship. Or is that what they paid for? [11 mins 00 secs]
  • How did you pick Dave as a sponsor? [15 mins 03 secs]
  • Dave as a sponsor, how has that impacted the festival and it’s direction? [1 hour 12 mins 20 secs]
  • What exactly does Dave get for being a sponsor?
  • Do they get a say in who performs at the festival?

Big Difference Comedy / Make Me Happy

  • What is it? How did it come about?
  • There’s been a lot of arts council cuts. How have you seen this impact performers? [58 mins 10 secs]
  • Do you think more festivals should do community projects to help the local community? [1 hour 2 mins 13 secs]
  • If you had one bit of advice for a performer about to take part in Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, what would it be?[1 hour 31 mins 45 secs]

Comedy Competition

  • Are all the competitions useful or even used by Dave to find new comedy talent? [18 mins 20 secs]
  • You had the first ever pun competition last year, what prompted that?
  • You also have Stand Up Challenge. Do you think competitions are a good thing in general and do they help raise the profile of comedians locally in Leicester?  
  • Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition
  • You also run Comedy In the Dark and have a lot of interesting shows. How important is it to you that there’s a lot of variety at the Leicester Comedy Festival?

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