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If there’s ever been a time for comedy, this past year has certainly called for it

The highly-anticipated Brisbane Comedy Festival has reimagined itself in 2021, after having to cancel the final week of shows in March 2020 as Brisbane went into lockdown.

Jul 29, 2021, updated Jul 29, 2021
Brisbane Powerhouse Comedy Festival Gala (Image: Supplied)

Brisbane Powerhouse Comedy Festival Gala (Image: Supplied)

This has seen the Festival move to winter in 2021 from its usual summer slot in the Brisbane events calendar, combined with a different approach to programming as explained by BCF Director Phoebe Meredith.

“Our final week in the 2020 Festival was comprised of interstate artists. Most of them were waiting in Adelaide, after performing in the Fringe Festival.  In retrospect, we didn’t have much choice in the decision to cancel those shows but living through it shaped how I programmed our 2021 Brisbane Comedy Festival,” Ms Meredith said.

“This year I very intentionally programmed artists based on their state of origin across each venue, and each week, to ensure that a lockdown in one area of the country would not impact the whole Festival.

“In the lead up to and during the Festival, promoters and comedians themselves have been ahead of decisions made around border closures, which has meant that many artists were already in Queensland prior.

“We have been closely monitoring the unfolding situation with COVID-19, starting with the Melbourne outbreak months ago. Then Sydney kicked off and Victoria reacted with another lockdown; we really weren’t anticipating that, as things had been relatively stable for some time.

Brisbane Comedy Festival Director Phoebe Meredith (Image: Supplied)

“It has meant that we have unfortunately lost shows we initially planned to present, however we have been able to already reschedule many of these. What has been just so amazing though is the way ticket holders have been so patient and held on to their tickets as we work on rescheduling shows.

“Artist’s livelihoods have taken a huge hit, some not working to their full capacity for eighteen months. Moving their sold out shows to another date and ensuring their show can go on really throws our support behind them.

“Although restrictions on venue capacities has meant that we could not utilise rooms usually set aside for emerging artists to showcase their talents, making the Festival footprint smaller still, we filled this void with free events including our legendary Knockoff comedy sessions held every Friday evening of the Festival.

“As I was programming the Festival throughout February and March, it became obvious that international borders would stay closed.

“The outcome has been a true celebration of Australian comedy, which we are seeing reflected in ticket sales. With more than a week to go we have already reached our sales target; people want to get out and have a laugh!

“Some would say it’s madness to run a Festival during this period of uncertainty, but if anything, what this past year has shown us is just how resilient people who work in the arts are, how innovative we can be and how important it is to support both artists as well as all of the many talented people who work behind the scenes.

“The show has to go on!”

Brisbane Comedy Festival runs until Sunday 08 August. Tickets at the Brisbane Comedy Festival’s website.

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