Launched in 2007 with the aim of recreating a micro version of the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival experience in Cambridge, with its unique appeal being that it attracted a host of big name comedians and the finest emerging talent to the city as they honed their shows ready for Edinburgh and beyond and iron out any rough edges.
Since 2007 the festival has been venue based at various locations around the city including the Cambridge Junction and Cambridge Corn Exchange plus many more including river punts!
In 2016 and 2017 we moved it outdoors to Jesus Green park in central Cambridge which proved very popular and was great fun and due to the current climate this year we’ve decided to once again host it outdoors but expand it into a fully fledged festival experience, which will take place on Grange Farm in Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon which is where the Secret Garden Party festival was held – it’s a fantastic countryside location and a beautifully unique and quirky landscaped site that lends itself perfectly to a comedy festival.
We have over 150 acts appearing across 4 stages packed with so many amazingly funny comedians from superstar household names to the very best circuit acts to left-field fringe acts plus live podcast shows, lots of fantastic kids/family shows and after the comedy shows have finished each evening we’ve even got comedians having a go at DJ’ing their favourite tunes in the Glade bar area and if all of that isn’t enough to tickle your comedy appetite we’ve also got a fresh water swimming lake on site!
Given the array of talent Cambridge has fostered over the years from Peter Cook, Eric Idle and John Cleese of Monty Python, through to Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and present day stars David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Olivia Coleman, Sandi Toksvig, Sue Perkins, Jimmy Carr, Simon Bird and Tim Key, here at festival HQ we have done our best to continue this grand tradition of hilarious comedic brilliance.
Here’s some of the festival highlights over the years:
With 14 shows over 4 days that included emerging talent Rhod Gilbert, Reginald D Hunter, Micky Flanagan and Perrier Award winner Phil Nichol.
With 22 shows over 7 days we welcomed back Rhod, Reginald and Phil and talented and as yet unknown acts Russell Howard, Andrew Lawrence and Jon Richardson. We also ran a series of shows on punts on the river called Silly Punts.
With 50 shows over 11 days we had comedy legend Arthur Smith and Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon. Rhod Gilbert and Micky Flanagan returned but this time as theatre filling household names. We had debuts from brilliant newcomers Sarah Millican, Jack Whitehall and Russell Kane.
With 40 shows over 4 days we welcomed back Jack Whitehall and Jon Richardson – now recognised as award winning comedians and the phenomenal Michael Winslow from the Police Academy films. With debuts from Mark Watson and comedy superstar in the making Kevin Bridges.
With 28 shows over 4 days we had a long overdue return to stand-up from Phil Jupitus and the dynamic and unique Showstoppers. There were debuts from rising stars Josh Widdicombe and Daniel Sloss.
With 50 shows over 6 days we had festival debuts from David O’Doherty, Steven K Amos and Adam Buxton plus rising stars Nick Helm, Paul Chowdry and Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Daniel Simonsen. We welcomed back Edinburgh stalwart Richard Herring and were treated to a comedy legend when Mike McShane performed as part of the Comedy Store Players and Ardal O’Hanlon took a detour to Cambridge whilst on holiday – with family in tow – to come and perform at the 11th hour when one of the acts fell ill and couldn’t make it…Our Hero!
With 30 shows over 6 days and to celebrate ten years of the Jesterlarf Comedy Club comedy legend Dylan Moran headlined a special Gala show. There were festival debuts from Ed Byrne, Seann Walsh and Cambridge comedian David Trent. We launched our kids shows with the Amazing Bubbleman from California.
With 30 shows over 6 days we welcomed back Josh Widdicombe and Russell Kane – now household names. Plus festival debuts from HQ favourite and comedy legend Tommy Tiernan plus Simon Amstell and rising star Romesh Ranganathan.
With 26 shows over 6 days we welcomed back festival regulars Mark Watson, Matthew Crosby, Andrew Maxwell and Richard Herring. There were debuts from rising stars Rob Beckett, Joel Dommett and Dane Baptiste plus circuit veterans Dave Johns, Nick Revel and Kevin Day.
With 34 shows over 5 days and to celebrate ten years of the festival we moved to the picturesque Jesus Green for some alfresco comedy with the Cambridge Junction and Cambridge Edition tents and the Jesterlarf Gala Marquee. We welcomed back Reginald D Hunter and Phil Nichol who performed at the first festival back in 2007. There were festival debuts from Milton Jones, Henning When, Joe Lycett and Josie Long plus rising stars Tom Lucy, Sophie Hagen and Tez Illyas.
With 50 shows over 5 days the festival returned to the picturesque Jesus Green. There were festival debuts from Rob Kemp as The Elvis Dead, Lauren Pattison and Jordan Brookes who were all Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees and John Robins who went on to win the Edinburgh Comedy Award. Joe lycett, Henning Wehn, Sara Pascoe and Ed Byrne all returned to entertain the crowds and there was a welcome return from Nick Helm, Abandoman and Tom Stade who hadn’t appeared at the festival for many years. There were some fantastic kids shows and an inspired impromptu comedy in the dark from Jarred Christmas & Hobbit with their Mighty Kids Beat-Box Game Show after a huge electrical storm wiped out the site power. The one and only Bob Slayer brought his beloved Blundabus Brenda to the festival and kept everyone young and old entertained all week.
With 32 shows over 4 days we welcomed back Milton Jones, Henning Wehn, Reginal D Hunter, Josh Widdicombe plus festival regulars Jo Caulfield, Andrew Maxwell and Comedy Club 4 Kids. There were festival debuts from comedy legend Griff Rhys Jones plus exciting new talent and rising stars Rosie Jones, Maisie Adam, The Kagools and Catherine Bohart.
There was no festival in 2019 or 2020 so we’re delighted to be back.
TV comedy shows like ‘Live At The Apollo’ and ‘Mock The Week’ have taken comedy to a wider audience but they are no substitute for live comedy, which is comedy in it’s purest, raw and uncut form, couple this with the company of some friends, a few drinks to lubricate the laughing muscles and you’ve got the recipe for a great night out and possibly the best value entertainment money can buy.
Thanks for supporting live comedy!