Launched in London in 2009, the E4 Udderbelly at the Southbank Centre has quickly grown into one of the capital's must-sees, offering three-months of top quality comedy talent along with circus, family and cabaret shows.
The 2012 event is set to be no different, adding yet another exciting dimension to a London summer that already boasts Wimbledon and, of course, the 2012 Olympic Games. Throw in the European Football Championships, every detail beamed live to pubs from Poland and Ukraine, and now Udderbelly, and surely, no one will get any work done until at least Halloween.
From Friday 6th April, the 400-seater upside-down purple cow that spends its summers on the banks of the Thames will play host to some of the biggest names in stand-up, improv , sketch comedy and everything in-between. Some of the highlights include:
Award winning comedian and star and co-creator of two series of BBC Four's We Need Answers, Horne has established a reputation as an original stand-up, writer and solo performer. His world record attempt, to become the planet's oldest living man, is on-going. 23rd June (£12.50).
One of the UK's most prolific comedians who, last year, took his new show What Is Love, Anyway? to Edinburgh and wrote and performed a second series of Richard Herring's Objective for Radio 4. He plays the upside-down cow on 4th July 2012 (£15.50) - it'll be one of the headlines of the festival.
The Boy With Tape on his Face
Sam Wills' wordless wonder brings his new show, More Tape, to Udderbelly and show off his exquisite, inventive slapstick brilliance. The Boy With Tape on his Face is appearing on 8th and 29th June, tickets priced £15.50.
The legendary Sean Hughes is back with a brand new stand-up show. Although still with his trademark irreverent style, Sean is now more mature (wears cords) and has plenty of issues he wants to discuss (moan about), including religion, politics and his bad knee. 24th June (£15.50), another belter.
Tickets to see this star of world comedy are not available now - they were allocated via a ballot, now closed. Yet, it's worth noting that, having recently completed his first arena tour, this one-off, intimate show will be a special end to what promises to be another smash-hit summer of comedy.
If it's bonkers family-entertainment you're after, then you really should consider this lot. There are no instruments, just a magnificent seven vocalists-cum-beatboxers-cum-emulators who can pretty much mimic any sound, harmony, bassline, drumbeat and special effects your heart desires, led by beat-boxer Shlomo. Internationally acclaimed vocal orchestras don't get better than this - and they are playing just about every night at Udderbelly, from 9th April to 27th May - tickets start at £10, rising to £17.50.
The quality and number of different performers is dizzying but, alongside the heavy-hitters above, you can count on a whole bunch of top comics and acts to provide the laughs throughout the festival, including Abandoman, Sara Pascoe, Rufus Hound, Andy Zaltzman, Gina Yashere, Greg Proops, Isy Suttie and many more.
There are also shows from the Comedy Store and a Comedy Club 4 Kids, plus the unmissable Showstopper! - The Improvised Musical and, in short, pretty much something for everyone.
And, despite the distractions from SW19, Stratford and Eastern Europe, tickets WILL sell out, so get on it.