The Laughter Factory celebrates 20th year of making the GCC laugh

Two-for-one advance tickets to mark milestone season

It was nearly two decades ago that two comedy lovers came together with the modest goal of bringing a few little laughs to the UAE. Fast forward to today, and The Laughter Factory is established as the region’s longest-running and highest quality comedy night – they made us laugh first, and laugh the hardest. To celebrate the start of its 20th year, The Laughter Factory is offering two-for-one tickets for every gig taking place in May – a total of eight shows across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, headlined by the mighty Canadian comic Pete Johansson. All you need to do is book online at the new-look thelaughterfactory.com before May 8. As always, the bill will feature full sets from three top comics handpicked by the UK’s Comedy Store, with Chris Kent and Marlon Davis also on the bill. Advance ticket sales will open on April 17. The tour will run from May 11-20 – see below for dates, bios and more.

Happy birthday to us

Over the past two decades, The Laughter Factory has hosted hundreds of visiting A-list comics at more than a thousand gigs across the GCC – entertaining more than 100,000 guests in the process. And it all started because there was nothing to do on a Thursday night in Dubai. It was boredom that inspired Gail Clough and Duncan Jones to put on one of the UAE’s first comedy gigs. In May 1997, The Laughter Factory co-founders booked out the Premiere, in Deira’s Hyatt Regency – then one of the city’s hottest nightclubs – and flew in some comics. The bill included a hypnotist and a guy with no arms, and only a few more jokes. They were amazed when 500 people showed up.

“We started The Laughter Factory because there was nothing to do at night but hear Hotel California sung by cover bands,” remembers Gail. “It was all just our way to have a few light-hearted laughs at the end of a working week. I never thought it would take off, really. “If you had told me 19 years ago I’d still be doing this today, I would have fainted in fits of laughter.” Co-founder Duncan added: “I cannot believe we’re still at it after nearly 20 years – I thought we would have learnt our lesson by now.” Inspired by the positive reaction of those early, hit-and-miss gigs, the night quickly evolved into a much-loved regular occurrence, soon taking the monthly, three-comics-a-night format known and enjoyed by so many. It wasn’t long before the brand expanded to host gigs in Abu Dhabi and Doha.

In 2000 The Laughter Factory signed a deal with the UK’s top venue, The Comedy Store, guaranteeing a rock solid rafter of comics every month – many of which have gone on to be household names. Over the years, comedians to have played The Laughter Factory on the way up (or down) include: Michael McIntyre, Ross Noble, Russell Peters, Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges, Dara Ó Briain, Daniel Kitson, Sean Hughes, Ed Byrne and Jason Manford. Not everything went to plan. “Dara Ó Briain spoke so fast, no one could understand a word he was saying. He has since slowed down a lot,” remembers Gail. “Michael McIntyre went quad biking in his suit and one of the other comedians, Gina Yashere, came off the bike and broke her arm. He spent the whole day in hospital with her. Nice guy.” The three comics they would have back in a flash? Tom Stade, Sarah Millican and Micky Flanagan. “I wish we could still afford him,” says Gail. Comedians aren’t the most, ahem, normal of folk. Every year we have the pleasure of showing dozens of fragile, outrageous and scattershot talents around the emirates, and beyond. We’ve seen scraps and scars, rows and romances, missed flights and broken dreams. We have lots of stories to tell, but none we can print here. Let’s just say, experience has taught us that no two comics are ever alike.

Gail adds: “All comics are strange in one way or another. I love their intelligence and the unique way they can look at the world. They tend to be quite fragile and easily upset in person, the opposite of how they are on stage.” We don’t mind admitting that over the years, the quality of our comics has gotten better – but so have you. The audience has evolved. In the beginning, much of the crowd might never have been to a comedy show before – that’s how it seemed, anyway. We like to think The Laughter Factory has played a key role in not just entertaining, but educating the UAE audience.

Duncan said: “How things have changed in 20 years. In the beginning, there was no scene. There weren’t a dozen amateur nights and local showcases. “There weren’t even the one-off big names passing through Dubai World Trade Centre on pocket-lining world tours. There was just little old us, with a humble hope to make you laugh.” Gail adds: “The last 19 years have been an absolute whirlwind. Along the way we’ve met so many new friends, made so many incredible memories – and had more than a few laughs. “We couldn’t have done any of it without the support of you, the audience – so now is our chance to say thank you. As a small token of our appreciation, we’re offering everyone two-for-one advance tickets. “So come and celebrate our 20th year with us in May, it will mean the world to us – and we guarantee you’ll have a good laugh.” To mark the start of our 20th season of making the UAE laugh, we’re giving away two-for-one tickets for every gig in May. Advance tickets will go on sale on April 17, and must be booked before May 8 to qualify for the special offer – so head to thelaughterfactory.com quick.

Twenty years of funny: The Laughter Factory’s Hall of Fame

1997 Ross Noble 1998 Lee Mack 1999 Dara Ó Briain 2000 Frankie Boyle 2001 Daniel Kitson 2002 Russell Peters 2003 Adam Hills 2004 Reginald D Hunter 2005 Ed Byrne 2006 Micky Flanagan 2007 Rhod Gilbert 2008 Milton Jones 2009 Michael McIntyre 2010 Kevin Bridges 2011 Sarah Millican 2012 Jack Whitehall 2013 Sean Hughes 2014 Jason Manford 2015 Tom Stade

The Best in International Stand-up May Tour:

Introducing the comics…

Pete Johansson

Once described by a critic at The Scotsman as “the funniest hour I have ever seen from a comic here in Edinburgh,” Pete Johansson is an A-list comic and critics’s favourite. CV highlights include performing alongside Stephen Merchant and Stewart Lee, co-starring in a TV series with Ed Byrne – and closing (!) for Jerry Seinfeld. Pete is consistently rated “very good” – picking up four star reviews from The Guardian, The Scotsman, Chortle, The List and Spoonfed (plus some others he can’t remember). Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Pete had a lengthy career in the US before moving to London in 2008. His stateside success includes: a network debut on NBC’s Friday Night; an hour long special for The Comedy Channel’s Comedy Now; appearances on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, and two episodes of Comedy Central’s Remix; performing on The Late Show with Craig Kilborn and Open Mike with Mike Bullard; guesting several times on CBC’s Just for Laughs Gala shows and National Lampoon’s Funny Money. Stints in Hollywood also saw Pete play the lead in films including Mixed Signals, alongside Jason London and Brook Langdon, and The Incredible Mrs Ritchie, with Gena Rowlands and James Caan. Following a move to the UK, Pete was instantly feted with a nomination for the Best Newcomer gong at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe – among the most-coveted awards in comedy. He soon became a regular at London Comedy Store venue, where he recorded a live CD). Broadcast highlights include being invited onto Radio 4′s prominent Loose Ends, appearing on Russell Howard’s Good News (BBC3) in 2010 – and bagging a starring role opposite Ed Byrne in BBC4′s Sex Bombs. Pete has shared the stage with Stephen Merchant, Stewart Lee, Simon Amstell – and in 2011 had the rare chance to close for Jerry Seinfeld at the Comedy Store. He didn’t bomb, either. Pete’s current tour has the deadpan title Several Jokes. What it doesn’t point out, is that laughter is guaranteed.

Chris Kent

Expect mountains of trademark Irish wit from this widely-lauded fresh talent, here making his first ever appearance at The Laughter Factory. The awards speak for themselves: In 2009, Kent won the Bulmers Nuttin’ But Funny Competition. A year later he won the Comedy Smackdown at the Galway Comedy Festival. Soon after, Cork’s City Limits comedy club called to offer him the job of regular MC. It’s his hometown, so he said yes. Closer to the bar, that way. In 2013 Kent was voted as one of the Top Five Irish Comedians, by Hot Press Magazine. Other folk to have noticed his talents are PJ Gallagher, Ardal O’Hanlon and Colin Murphy, who all invited Chris on the road. Following successful stints at the Edinburgh Fringe, Kent earnt respect and admiration for his fresh, sometimes-zany personal material – look out for a routine about the night terrors he gets from eating cheese. Really.

Marlon Davis

Upcoming UK comic Marlon Davis is scheduled to make a return visit to The Laughter Factory. Since debuting his first full solo show, Enter the Davism, in 2012, Davis has supported A-listers including Michael McIntyre, Alan Carr, and Kevin Bridges. He has appeared on Comedy Central’s Comedy Store, BBC Three’s Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live, BBC Two’s Kevin Eldon Show and MTV’s sitcom Get Rich alongside Example and Doc Brown.

The Laughter Factory – May tour dates

Dubai:

Thursday May 12, 9pm – Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, JBR *

Friday May 13, 9pm – Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, JBR *

Wednesday May 18, 8pm – McGettigan’s JLT @ The Baggot

Thursday May 19, 9pm – Grand Millennium Hotel, TECOM *

Friday May 20, 9pm – The Gramercy, DIFC #

Abu Dhabi:

Wednesday May 11, 8pm – Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi

Doha:

Monday May 16, 8pm – Rose & Thistle, Doha Tuesday May 17, 8pm – Grand Hyatt, Doha * = Comedy Brunch available at this venue # = Laughter Factory Supper Club available at this venue (see below for details)

Tickets, priced at QAR140

Find out more: www.thelaughterfactory.com Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thelaughterfactory And Twitter: @LaughterFactory

Introducing… The Laughter Factory “Comedy Brunch”

All-new for 2016, The Laughter Factory recently launched the UAE’s first “comedy brunch”. That’s right: food, drinks and laughs, all under one roof… what could make a funner – or funnier – night? The all inclusive-package offers comedy fans the chance to warm up for the show with an international buffet from a five-star hotel, alongside free-flowing house beverages (including hops, grape and short drinks). The “evening brunch” package is available for two hours before the gigs (7pm-9pm) at the Mövenpick Hotel JBR and Grand Millenium TECOM venues only, and costs just Dhs320 (or Dhs280 for soft drinks) – including entry to the gig (normally Dhs140). Group packages, including discounts on drinks inside the venue, are also available. Head to thelaughterfactory.com to make a booking today. Call 04 355 1862 for more information.

Our Supper Club

Comedy doesn’t have to be a rowdy pub affair – show some class by inviting your date or mates out to our all-new Supper Club concept. At select venues, The Laughter Factory now offers an intimate evening dining experience, while you settle down ready for the show. For just Dh120 extra, enjoy a two-course, pre-show meal from a contemporary set menu, all delivered straight to your table. Place your full order at least one hour before the gig starts, to ensure the food reaches you before the comics take to the stage – because if there’s one thing comedians don’t like, it’s waiters interrupting the punchline… The package is on offer at The Gramercy DIFC. The comedy starts at 9pm prompt, so we advise arriving by 7pm to make the most of your evening. The full package costs Dh260 per head – including the gig, normally priced at Dh140 – with drinks available a la carte. Head to thelaughterfactory.com to make a booking today. Call 04 355 1862 for more information.

About The Laughter Factory

The Laughter Factory is the Middle East’s longest-running comedy night, proudly making the GCC laugh since 1997. Thanks to a longstanding partnership with the UK’s Comedy Store, The Laughter Factory hosts a fresh bill of three different professional comedians every month, many already familiar stars of the screen on hit UK TV shows. With a reputation for quality and a sharp eye for talent, The Laughter Factory has showcased reams of A-list comics on their way to superstardom, including Michael McIntyre, Russell Peters, Ed Byrne, Dara O’Brien, Ross Noble, Jason Manford, Sean Hughes, Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle. The Laughter Factory’s commitment to comedy has been recognised by numerous publications, winning several accolades over its two-decade history, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from Time Out Dubai in 2013.

Media contact

Gail Clough (co-founder)

+97150 100 3074

gail@thelaughterfactory.com