Preview: Leicester Comedy Festival, Various Venues, Leicester

Laugh? My audience nearly died

For the comedian Ivan Brackenbury – real name Tom Binns – to appear on the same bill at the Leicester Comedy Festival as Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr is a step up. Binns first created the radio character of the hopeless hospital radio DJ Ivan Brackenbury in the early Nineties and performed it on Radio 1, Virgin and GLR before developing his own radio career.

After a seven-year break, he decided to bring Ivan Brackenbury back and put the character on the stage. Last year, he was nominated for the Edinburgh Fringe if.comedy prize, and he's now on the live circuit.

His show takes the form of a live hospital radio roadshow with a lot of inappropriate record requests and community announcements that are disguised jokes. He wears an orange cap with the hospital radio logo and a red sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms in an attempt to look cool.

"Ivan Brackenbury has a heart of gold. If he saw the connection between the records he played and people he was playing them to, he would be mortified," Binns says. "The character has become much more good-natured and innocent. When I first started with him, he was more ambitious and mischievous."

Other acts at this year's festival include the Scottish comedian Boyle, with his edgy social commentary, Jimmy Carr and his one-liners, and the 3ft 6in-tall Canadian Tanyalee Davis.

There's the biting humour of the American Rich Hall, and the kooky Josie Long. Michael McIntyre deals with daily life, and the satirical Andy Parsons, the confessional Paul Sinha and the new Bullseye presenter Dave Spikey will also be on hand.

The events include a discussion about political correctness in comedy in the debate Playing For Laughs, and John Ryan's That Dad Thing – a comedy health-project aimed at encouraging fathers to take a more active role in a child's development. And finally, Arthur Smith hosts the charity gala show Comedy Heaven.



8 to 17 February (0116-261 6812; www.comedy-festival.co.uk)

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