The Kilkenny Cat Laughs Comedy Festival celebrates 25 years this June Bank Holiday. We caught up with comedian Karl Spain to find out what the event has in store and his top tip for festivalgoers.
"2002 was my first [Cat Laughs]. I was literally the bottom rung of the festival, I was a late addition and I was doing ten minutes as part of the new acts show. It was good because people would bring other comics into see me because it's always exciting when there's a new act, and people are saying 'There's something exciting about this guy'."
"My first time meeting Jason Byrne was when PJ Gallagher brought him to the gig," he continued. "I was delighted with that, and then the following year I was fully part of the festival, doing shows with Bill Bailey, Jimmy Carr, Milton Jones - literally everyone. It was just mindblowing."
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Seventeen years later and Karl - one of Ireland's finest stand-ups - has become the star of the show. Whether he's gigging on stage, roasting his colleagues at the comedians' football match or co-hosting the Walking Tour, the Limerick native has well and truly taken over the Kilkenny town.
This year, along with the rest of the festival, the annual football match will celebrate 25 years of amusing athleticism as approximately 22 comedians descend upon the grounds of Kilkenny City’s Fairgreen to make a mockery of the beautiful game - in the most competitive way possible.
"It used to be phenomenally competitive," says Karl. "I think it's eased off a little bit but it used to be - there were loads of people getting injured, people needing knee operations. Joe Rooney was carried off one time."
To celebrate their silver jubilee, festival organizers have accumulated a jaw-dropping line-up of homegrown and international talent, including Tommy Tiernan, Dara Ó'Briain, Dylan Moran, Lucy Porter, Alan Davies, Nish Kumar, Angela Barnes, and many more. With so many top class comedians and so little time, we asked Karl for his top tips for festivalgoers.
"Go see someone you haven't heard of. You'll see the line up of Tommy, Dylan, Dara - they're guaranteed, I know I'll love them, they're going to be brilliant. Then pick one of the shows where there's someone else on, you'll always be shocked. You might not know their names, but they're not booked just because they have names you haven't heard of - they're probably brilliant."
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The full programme is now live and tickets on sale at www.thecatlaughs.com.