For a city with the dubious honour of a high rainfall during the autumn and winter months, Manchester still has plenty to laugh about. Its two main football-teams are doing OK at the moment, so not many laughs guaranteed there (unless you count the hilarious petulance displayed by a couple of their main stars recently). Instead, this proud and majestic city can rely on its comedic history (Les Dawson, 'nuff said) and current crop of chucklemeisters to provide the laughs in 2011 - and, by crikey, we do need to split our sides, don't we?
The Manchester Comedy Festival 2011 starts next Monday and runs for a fortnight until 30th October, offering stand-up and sketch shows across several venues in and around the Manchester area, large and small, cheap and not so cheap.
We'll come to the big boys in due course, but some of the more familiar contenders during the first week include Richard Herring with his What Is Love, Anyway? show (18th Oct - Frog and Bucket, £10), Aussie-born ex-11 O'Clock Show regular Brendon Burns (19th - Frog and Bucket, £8/£10), Justin Moorhouse (20th - Plaza Theatre Stockport, £15), Lee Hurst (21st - Salford's The Lowry, £15) and two Poot shows from Irish whirlwind Tommy Tiernan (21st and 22nd at The Dancehouse Theatre, £17.50).
The second week shows no signs of waning - you can catch a trio of shows at the Lass O'Gowrie pub featuring Quentin Reynolds (28th), Hayley Ellis (29th) and Mike Newall (30th) with all shows costing £5 or less. Heavyweights come in the shape of Tony Hawks (27th - The Lowry, from £14), Andy Parsons' Gruntled (28th - Middleton's Arena, £15) and Rob Brydon's Small Man in a Book (29th - RNCM, resales only from £40). And so to the megaboys...
Not surprisingly, Bolton's superstar has pretty much sold out his The Tour that Doesn't Tour - Farewell Tour shows next week but there are a few (and we mean, a few) seats left for the 19th. His mate, Paddy McGuinness, is also appearing at the MEN Arena on 29th October - he has also sold out the show.
No longer a regular part of Ricky Gervais' writing schedule (for the time being), Merchant will attempt to leave behind those awful Barclays adverts to continue with his Hello Ladies tour which includes three shows at the Apollo from 27th - 29th. All still available, priced from £25 and very funny.
Check out the list below for further suggestions and to grab your tickets - hurry, many shows are in smaller venues and will sell out.