Top comedy talent heads for Suffolk

YOU could argue a decent case that the comedy arena has a higher quality line-up than any of the other stages, according to Dominic Castle.

Dominic Castle

ONE of the strongest parts of Latitude is the comedy arena; in fact you could argue a decent case that it has a higher quality line-up than any of the other stages.

There is a raft of big names, including Jo Brand, Ed Byrne, Mark Thomas, Tim Vine and the Seans Hughes and Lock, but also a comic pot-pourri of lesser lights.

You may well recognise some of these from a “oh, isn't he the bloke who was funny on Have I Got News for You/ Mock the Week/Any Other Quizcom Show?” point of view. But there will be performers from a layer of fame even below that, which is actually quite exciting. This year the festival is introducing a new act of the year section, giving half a dozen unknowns the chance to slug it out for laughs in front of a proper crowd.

Who knows, it might throw up the next comic superstar.

Of the established names Mark Thomas stands out as one of the top tickets for an event which likes to have a bit of a social conscience going on.

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Marcus Brigstocke and Andre Vincent's Early Edition is billed as a kind of “BBC 4's Late Edition... but earlier. The morning papers, comedy, and special guests take to the stage to wake you up with a start!” It also pledges to be “irreverent, honest and fearless.”

For years comedian Omid Djalili has been billed as Britain's only Iranian stand-up comedian. Well, he's going to have to stop using that line as Shappi Khorsandi has muscled in on his turf.

TV viewers have been treated to her sharp wit on Live at the Apollo and Jonathan Ross's Friday Night show and she promises to be one of the highlights of the weekend.

She is one of a fairly select band of women in a male-dominated field; Jo Brand is the headliner here but there are names which may be unfamiliar to English audiences including lively American Jessica Delfino, whose set reportedly includes music played on a guitar, the flying V ukulele, rape whistle, autoharp, Q-chord, glockenspiel and tiny keyboard.

Dave Gorman, one of the most imaginative performers on planet comedy, joins the line-up ahead of the start of one of the more unusual comic tours of Britain - he's doing it by bike.

Master of the snappy one-liner Lee Mack will be a big draw, as will Rufus Hound, one of the young talents emerging on screens everywhere at the moment.

So even if the weather turns out to be wetter than a fish's trousers, festival-goers are at least guaranteed a good laugh.