Last laughs

Gala brings London festival to end

Sixteen comics have brought the second London Comedy Festival to an end with a four-hour benefit gig that will raise thousands of pounds to combat breast cancer.

The Breakthrough To Laughter event, organised by stand-up John Moloney, was the last of around 270 events in the nine-day festival.

Many were shows that would have existed anyway, but branded and promoted under the festival banner, but a number of special events were organised such as the screening of Rowan Atkinson's Bean in Trafalgar Square and a series of gigs celebrating ethnic diversity in stand-up.

Moloney produced and compered the finale in aid of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity because his sister suffers the debilitating illness.

The bill included Jo Brand, Jenny Eclair, Bill Bailey and Al Murray - as well as ukelele-strumming newcomer Ria Lina, who earned her place on the star-studded bill by winning the Hackney Empire Allstars competition.

Last year's winner, Muslim comedienne Shazia Mirza, was also in the line-up, as was Gina Yashere, Richard Morton, Ian Stone, Tim Clark, Men In Coats, Paul Zerdin and former Red Dwarf star Hattie Hayridge.

Music was provided by Dr Robert (of the Blow Monkeys) and the London Community Gospel Choir, whose finale was blighted with microphone problems and an overenthusiastic fan who clambered onto the stage to join them and had to be ejected, but still proved a rousing end to the night.

The London Comedy Festival is generally hailed as a success by smaller clubs, who benefit from increased audiences thanks to the publicity the event generates.

However, critics say it fails to make an impact - despite high-profile coverage in the Evening Standard - and that some of London's biggest clubs, most notably The Comedy Store, are not included. This is possibly because the festival is organised by The Store's biggest commercial rivals, Jongleurs.

London Comedy Festival

Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Published: 27 May 2002

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