Forget your election, there’s a Cat Laughs festival outside

IT’LL be music to their ears. Comedy fans need wait no longer, as Cat Laughs Comedy Festival tickets go on sale online today (Wednesday).

IT’LL be music to their ears. Comedy fans need wait no longer, as Cat Laughs Comedy Festival tickets go on sale online today (Wednesday).

Music is central to the 2011 programme which was launched in Kilkenny on Monday – including a late-night gig with the Rubberbandits.

The Horne Section is another musical number, following on from its debut at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Stand-up comedian Alex Horne is the centrepiece of this act, with five session musicians at his side. The trick is that as guest comedians perform during the show, the musicians improvise songs and sounds to accompany them.

Improv is central to the UK-based Irish act Abandoman as well. Described as “Flight of the Conchords meets 8 Mile”, this hip-hop/ rap act is also the festival’s first all-ages gig, with a family-friendly Saturday afternoon affair in addition to a late show.

New to the Cat Laughs as well is Bo Burnham, a 20-year-old US act who launched his career by posting funny material online.

“We knew this was going to be an interesting one with the state of the country and the state of everything,” said the festival’s artistic director, Rebecca Austin. “So it’s a good year to be doing something really different with the festival.”

That said, there are plenty of festival stalwarts such as Neil Delamere and Tommy Tiernan, and this year’s Cat Laughs from June 2-6 marks the inaugural appearance of Hector Ó hEochagáin.

The weekend will also see the return of last year’s “accidental hit”, ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ comedy treasure hunt.

“This year the focus is on a secret venue,” Ms Austin hints of this two-hour ‘adventure’. “People will be involved in tasks and a bus trip, and then they will go to a secret venue where they will find a comedy show waiting for them.”

Also on the Saturday afternoon of the festival, David O’Doherty and friends will present ‘Afternoon De’Write: Word Rockets In Flight’. Audiences are invited to “drink tea and eat cake” with David O’Doherty, co-author of 100 Facts About Pandas and the upcoming 100 Facts About Sharks. He’ll be reading funny excerpts from his own writings and a selection of others’.

And – continuing to ‘laugh all the way to the bank’ after the success of the 2010 Kilkenomics festival – the Cat Laughs will bring ‘Dislike! A Facebook Guide to the Recession’. In this hourlong show with a fake Facebook page “for Ireland and its economic woes”, Colm O’Regan will “poke the profile of our greatest economic disaster and explain where it all went wrong”.

Appropriately for the topic, Ms Austin pointed out: “We have dropped the price of these single shows to make them more accessible.”

Tickets to the 2011 Cat Laughs Comedy Festival go on sale today at www.thecatlaughs.com, and a box office in Kilkenny will open later this spring.