Birmingham Comedy Festival is back!

Award-winning arts festival returns with free online programme.

While many other arts festivals have been decimated by the current pandemic and lockdown restrictions, Birmingham Comedy Festival is proud to announce it’s alive and kicking with a series of unique interventions and excursions – taking place (mostly) online between Friday 2nd and Sunday 11th October .

These include a series of especially commissioned radio shows, podcasts, live streams, and more.

Fresh from releasing his acclaimed sixth album, Dreamland Tomorrow, Black Country musician Dan Whitehouse creates his first film soundtrack by providing a new and very contemporary sounding score for Charlie Chaplin’s silent 1916 masterpiece, The Vagabond (from October 5th). Combining comedy with pathos, the ‘silent’ film marked a turning point in Chaplin’s career.

Accompanying the commission, the festival also looks at the theory that Chaplin was born in a Smethwick park – an idea popularised by TV’s Peaky Blinders (from October 3rd).

Objectivity finds broadcaster James Sandy asking BBC WM Breakfast host Daz Hale, as well as comedian’s Josh Pugh and Maureen Younger, to select various highly personal objects for an intriguing new series which airs on Switch Radio (October 4th, 6th & 11th).

Prior to the much anticipated release of King Rocker, comedian Stewart Lee’s film documentary about Birmingham’s cult post-punk misfits The Nightingales, frontman and founder Robert Lloyd discusses how the film came about, the band’s longevity, and new album, Four Against Fate – which is proving to be the most popular release of their forty-year career! (from October 10th).

The Birmingham Comedy Festival Sketch Show features contributions from some of the West Midlands’ best comics, including Craig Deeley, Josh Pugh, Linda Hargreaves and Harvey Hawkins, as well as improv’ troupe Jumprov. The first online episode officially kicks off the festival on Friday 2nd October.

Meanwhile, Mrs Barbara Nice returns with a new episode of her iTunes-charting podcast, James Cook challenges comedians Laura Lexx and Carl Donnelly for the live streaming Board Game Smackdown, Maureen Younger hosts a MY Comedy Chats special, featuring Brum-based acts, and Mary Flanigan and Richard Dadd host a spooktacular interactive comedy adventure via Twitch.

Alongside the online activities, the festival is also launching its own line of T-shirts and merchandise, with several designs inspired by the city. Proceeds go to supporting the festival, which is volunteer-led.

A spokesperson for the festival said: “We began the year on such a high, with so many shows booked for what was set to be one of our biggest ever festivals. We also won two What’s On Readers’ Awards – for Best Midlands Arts Festival and Best Birmingham Arts Festival – for the second consecutive year, which was so amazing and very humbling. But sadly, the pandemic then hits, and participating venues, clubs and acts are deeply and adversely affected.

“Facing such a punch, it’d be easy for us to just take a break. But we didn’t want to let the year simply vanish. So we’ve commissioned, created and programmed a series of free events and activities, available to stream online over the festival’s 10-day period (Oct 2-11, 2020), that we hope will amuse, entertain, and also surprise.

“We’d like to thank everyone who helped make this revised festival happen, as well as those who worked so hard in programming our ‘lost’ festival pre-pandemic. We’ll be back in 2021 for what we hope will be a very special fest’, as next year marks our 20th anniversary!”

For full day-to-day listings, including details of how to catch-up on key streamed activities, see: