Geoff Rowe

"I do really enjoy each year having a blank piece of paper and starting to fill it up with ideas"

What do you do?

This is a very good question! I guess as the festival has developed since we set it up in 1994, my role has changed as well. These days I think I help set the general direction for each festival, produce some of our exclusive festival events, support the sponsorship & fundraising campaigns, and have an input into the marketing and promotion. I’m very fortunate in that we have an amazing team who I hope I support throughout the year. We tend to focus on the annual Leicester Comedy Festival & the UK Kids’ Comedy Festival, but we do work on other projects when we can, which don’t necessarily focus on comedy.

How did you get to where you are?

I first promoted a live gig when I was aged 13 and there was nothing for me and my friends to do in the village where we lived. So, I booked the local village hall, a band, did some promotion and sold some tickets!

It was very low-key, but it worked and I didn’t lose any money so I continued promoting bands throughout my teenage years. It was then that I thought about becoming a promoter/producer. At that point music was my passion; I only started to promote comedy when we set up Leicester Comedy Festival when I was studying Arts Management at De Montfort University here in Leicester.

Why do you love what you do?

I do really enjoy each year having a blank piece of paper and starting to fill it up with ideas and suggestions which can then sometimes become realities and form part of the festival. I enjoy working with people who are far more creative than me and giving them a platform.

I think festivals provide a good opportunity to make some ideas bigger than they otherwise would be and if the overall “noise” of Leicester Comedy Festival can help provide a bigger platform for artists and comedians, that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Why Leicester?

So, I came to Leicester to study at DMU and in our final year we had to produce a practical project; we produced the first ever Leicester Comedy Festival so I guess in some ways we had no choice but to be in Leicester!

But if you want to know why I have stayed for approaching 30 years, I do like the modesty of the city, whilst at the same time we do have some amazing venues and creative activity.

I’m really not a fan of festivals which are parachuted into cities by people from outside, so I've stayed in Leicester since graduating and I hope the festival helps to showcase some of our best venues and performers – as well as attracting people from further afield.

What next?

We do have some incredibly exciting news for later in 2021 but i really can’t tell you about that just now…… sorry!

Right now, what next is trying to figure out how to produce what has historically been a live comedy festival in this new “Covid” world we live in. We are fortunate that we know we will have an online programme as part of the festival, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I will really miss the live part of what we do if we aren’t able to do live events.

For all the latest news on the 2021 festival, see

Other than that, I guess we are starting to think about our 30th anniversary which will take place in February 2023, all being well!

Reader Recommendations?

When I was first starting out, I read biographies and autobiographies about producers and people involved in the entertainment world. If you can get a copy of ‘Hit Men’ by Fredric Dannen, it’s a great book about the American music industry and its inner workings.

Check out the Sultan's Elephant event which took place in London in 2006. The background story is a real inspiration in terms of how long some ideas take to become a reality.

Biographies about Tracey Thorn, Bob Geldof, John Peel, Desmond Tutu, Chris Evans, Dawn French are all worth a read!


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