"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.
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.
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 https://comedy-festival.co.uk/.
Other than that, I guess we are starting to think about our 30th anniversary which will take place in February 2023, all being well!
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!
Instagram: @geoff_rowebem Facebook: /geoff rowe Twitter: @geoff_rowe Website: www.comedy-festival.co.uk