10 years of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival
Joan Rivers, Kevin Bridges, Frankie Boyle and Sarah Millican among the highlights of the last decade
For a decade, Glasgow has been the proud home to a truly international comedy festival. Tommy Sheppard, the event’s creator and director, reflects on some of his own highlights
The very first festival opens with Daniel Kitson on the same night the Iraq War starts. Kitson is delayed getting to the show as the centre of Glasgow is brought to a standstill by anti-war protests. The pilot festival sells about 20,000 tickets and is judged a success.
35,000 tickets go on sale with headliners including Al Murray, Dylan Moran and Jimmy Carr. Johnny Vegas does a secret gig at The Stand and performs the second half of his show from inside a wheelie bin commandeered from a neighbour’s garden. Promotional activity in Central Station is cancelled after Raymond Mearns announces that there’s a jobby on the line.
We’re up to 50,000 tickets and get our first big international headliner in the shape of comedy diva Joan Rivers.
There’s chaos and cancellations as the first weekend gets a record snowfall. Kevin Bridges performs his first ever solo show at Universal and sells 61 tickets.
Russell Brand uses the longest mic lead I have ever seen to wander through the audience at The Academy. Kitson previews his storytelling show at Uisge Beatha with the audience having to carry their own chairs across the street from The Stand. Joan Rivers once again performs here despite having acute food poisoning and running off stage to be sick.
We have our first ever US showcase and it’s a breakthrough year for Michael McIntyre as he sells out Oran Mor in 48 hours.
A show called Gangster Party sells out after word gets round that the two gangsters are Frankie Boyle and Kevin Bridges. The first Year of Homecoming hosts a showcase of American comics with Scottish roots.
We have 13 Americans in the line-up with W Kamau Bell making his UK debut. John Bishop plays to 10,000 people at the SECC. Later in the year the festival goes to New York as the first ‘Glasgow International Comedy Festival Presents’ showcase is featured at the New York Comedy Festival.
On its tenth birthday, we end up selling the biggest ever proportion of tickets and for the first time fill The King’s Theatre for two full weeks with stand-up comedy.