Leeds LaughterFEST: Ben Randm and co set to make Leeds p*ss its pants

Bradford born funny man and all round decent chap Ben Randm has been championing the flourishing Yorkshire comedy scene for some years now, and is about to bestow five days of sh!ts and giggles upon the city of Leeds with Leeds LaughterFEST. The festival is as varied as they come, covering every avenue of comedy with a plethora of fresh, raw, stand-up talent, as well as music, film and even classic TV.

Ben Brown stood next to poetic graffiti type scrawl

Ben Randm stood next to poetic graffiti type scrawl

Kicking off at Hirst’s Yard on Wednesday 1st October with award winning comedian Marcel Lucont is stand-up night Sh!ts and Giggles, with stellar support from Peter Bazely and Mawaan Rizwan. I saw the latter two perform in Leeds a few months back, and they were both very funny, and had the crowd in the palm of their hands- there was certainly no crappy, granny-friendly Michael McIntyre-esque observational comedy here.

Thursday the 2nd is a heady mix of music and comedy at Hi-Fi club with ABANDOMAN headlining. Saturday the 4th takes it to the movies with an exclusive screening of Cult Classic Napoleon Dynamite at Hyde Park Picture House, which is celebrating 100 years of business in 2014.

Fans of hit of the classic hit U.S show Friends need to get themselves along to the Belgrave Music Hall on Sunday the 5th for the ultimate Friends quiz, followed by the screening of the three best episodes – as voted by you, the punter. A staggering 200 plus revellers attended the last Friends night, so get your arse down early to avoid disappointment.

Friends night at Belgrave Music Hall.

Friends night at Belgrave Music Hall.

The festival ends with a bang on Monday 6th October at the Faversham, with a risque improvised stand-up show, where anything can, and probably will happen.

I caught up with event organiser Ben Randm (who will also be stepping up to the mic throughout the festival with his own unique brand of humour) to quiz him about his inspirations and the highs, lows and laughs of life on the  cut-throat comedy circuit. Find full details of all the events straight after the interview:

So comedy has clearly been a passion of yours from a young age. What’s your earliest memory of making others laugh?

Born and raised in Bradford, the school playgrounds are a relentless arena for pre-pubescent carnage breeding banter where personalities are forged, and for me other than playing football it was taking the piss out of my mates, teachers, whoever really.. It was a ‘free for all’ of ripping each other and having to dish it back better than it came to you!

My earliest memory of seeing how much I’d made someone laugh though was when I was four years old and doing a Michael Jackson ‘Bad’ impression which had these two older lasses in hysterics, probably cos I was reet going for it with the kicks n moon-walking and the spin with the ‘Hoooooo’

I always loved doing impression when younger, I had Legion of Doom ‘Laaaaa, what a ruuuuuuuuush’ on lock as well as Macho Man ‘Oh Yeah DIG IT’ n I used to always do these kind of like american gangster voices which my mates would get me to do all the time, capeshe!


Nile Rodgers finally meets his comedy hero and long lost son, Ben Randm – ahhhh!

 What have been your biggest comedic influences from a young age up until now?

The Real McCoy and Desmonds were subtly important when growing up. At that age I didn’t realise the impact and importance of such shows on telly breaking down barriers that 20 years on allow me the scope to perform in a more open domain.

I reckon though the show that got me and I felt ‘this is some quirky weird shit reet up my street’ was League of Gentleman! Just so wrong in the right way, it stands out because the next day talking about it in school only a few had seen it, so we then started quoting lines and then coming up with our own humour in that manner, so that DEFO made a huge impact! It came along at a time when I was 15 and was open to be influenced and fortunately that reached me before something like ‘2 Packets of Lager n a Splatter of Gash’ did. Alan Partridge also was a winner for me!

 What’s been your proudest achievement to date?

Proudest moment is I’m living my dreams man! Making people laugh, its what its about for me, making folk happy and seeing them smile to me is magic!

This Festival I’ve arranged ‘Leeds LaughterFEST’ is ceratinly the most proudest event I’ve ever put together and I’m super happy with what I’ve linked – the acts and venues and tied it all off!

Ben's humble abode back in Bradford.

Ben’s humble abode back in Bradford – who says comedy doesn’t pay?

 Which City has the best crowds (you better say Leeds!)?

Aye man, Leeds is the one! Everywhere has its own sense of humour but Leeds is raw, you can be bold with material and the audience will go with you. If you flop then at least they’ll give you the chance to make it better, where as in London its more ‘make me laugh, I bet you can’t’ and can be a battle rather than a communion. Us Northerners are just more pleasant folk though aint we!

 Agreed – sod London! What’s been your biggest on stage f*ck up (pardon my French)?

Performing on MDMA…! I know right, it seems like it should make so much sense and work but it didn’t hahahaha! I’m not ruling doing it out again though 😉

 What can we expect from the festival – please don’t say class A’s, this is a family site and all that (it clearly isn’t!)?

A spirit and passion that is born out of not only wanting to entertain people but bring everyone together as I’m a massive believer in positive energy uniting and having a lasting effect on all souls present for better!

Each night celebrates a certain strand of Comedy, so again its giving people the option to try new styles along with sample what they usually like. Showing Napoleon Dynamite in its 10th year anniversary at Hyde Park Picture House is gonna be a special moment! Uniting all us ‘Napoleonites’ as I’ve coined us, all in a prestigious venue, which is also celebrating its 100th year is an honour –  I’m blessed to be on-board with it!

Tell us a joke…sorry, obvious, but had to be asked!

Argh hahahaha! No, I thought this was an interview not a packet of Penguins!

You’ll have to come along to one of the nights man and see it in action, best way to feel it man.

Comedy is the only profession people demand you demonstrate what you do like this.., like imagine meeting an accountant n going ‘finger a calculator’ or a jobsworth going ‘continue living in your ficticious bubble of superiority and having no friends and lack of social skills!’

Jobsworths for the record cause more harm to the world on a daily basis than terrorist!

Knock, knock...

Knock, knock…

Don’t talk to me about jobsworth’s, they try to fu*k me over all the time! Tell us how the joke making process works for you, from inspiration down to writing then delivery?

Life inspires me! What I see and feel then gets my mind flowing with possibilites and then my imagination takes over and puts a spin on it that makes me laugh and then I go from there with it.

I don’t like writing my material as it can lose the moment trying to scribble it down so I remain in the shower of inspiration until its formed in my head. If it needs developing or tweaking then I work backwards from the punchline or get out line and arrive at the catalyst, the bit that engineers the direction to the punchline, and then I work my way back to the start.

When there I’ll run it through from the start to the end and then do that a few times and then will bulletpoint it on paper!

The delivery side is mad man as I want when I perform it, the unrehearsed feel to it, as I don’t want to be performing a script and I thrive off the uncertainty of how that can go, so it really could go anywhere and bits can get added dependant on each audience and the vibe sensed! Its more real than manufactured. Yet I still want it to come across polished and refined and that for me is the mastery that I work towards!

 One last question…worst heckle and best comeback from a heckle?

I’m not gonna name him or call him out as he is a really good mate of mine, but he well overstepped the line here. Probably cos he’d had a bit too much alcohol and was a bit half cut. So anyway, I was doing this bit about Ashley Cole, Anton Ferdinand and John Terry and also Luis Suarez – Patrice Evra too,  a few years back when all that was topical, My mate had been outside for a cig, and as he’s walking back in to the busy venue n=and upon hearing my material he slyly tried to whisper and drop the ‘N bomb’ but cause he was half cut he did it louder than he thought and then I repeated it – to make him stew in his own stupidity and awkwardness!!

Everyone gasped and was ready to kick off so I had to style it and said “look pal, you’re bang out of order but to keep the peace I’ll use this opportunity to, and I despise this term, but I’ll pull out the race card… and challenge you to a race outside right now!”

And then we both bounced outside with the audience spilling out onto the street and we raced up to where this dear old granny was, about 30 metres up street and then sprinted back! I kicked his arse, obviously and it went down a treat. Everyone was loving the spontaneity and it stifled the tension and then when back inside I killed him off by saying “don’t get involved in race relations you can’t win!”.

Leeds LaughterFEST’

Wed 1st October – Mon 6th October ’14

(in association with Variety, Children’s Charity and Dementia UK)

Front : Poster

Launch night – Wednesday 1st October

Wednesday - Marcel

Leeds LaughterFEST Presents Sh!ts ‘n’ G!ggles


Hirst’s Yard

Headlined by MARCEL LUCONT

Featuring support from

Peter Bazely ‘Future of British Comedy’ & Mawaan Rizwan

Tickets £5 in advance (+BF) / MOTD

Doors at 7pm / Acts from 8pm

For tickets – http://www.seetickets.com/Event/leeds-laughterfest-presents-sh-ts-n-g-ggles/hirst-s-yard/816390

Winner: FringeWorld Award – Best Comedy Show – FringeWorld Perth 2013

Winner: Amused Moose Award – Best Comedy Show – Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Nominee: Best International Show Award – New Zealand Comedy Festival 2012

“Fresh, accessible and hilarious” The Guardian 

“Consistently brilliant… An essential Fringe show” ★★★★★ The Skinny

“Master of the deadpan… His act is one of astounding panache”★★★★★ AllTheFestivals

“A pitch-perfect performance… His sardonic turns of phrase are an utter joy” ★★★★ Time Out

“Flawless… A Comedy Festival pearl” New Zealand Herald

“A must-see… In his own words, he is fantastic” ★★★★ Herald Sun, Melbourne Comedy Festival

“Excessive dryness and superb comic timing… Go see him while you can still afford to” dB magazine, Adelaide Fringe

For tickets – http://www.seetickets.com/Event/leeds-laughterfest-presents-sh-ts-n-g-ggles/hirst-s-yard/816390

 Thursday 2nd October

Thursday - Abandoman

Leeds LaughterFEST Presents Well Sketch!Eeee


HiFi Club http://www.thehificlub.co.uk/


Headlined by ABANDOMAN



Featuring support from

Mickey P Kerr & Friz Frizzle

Tickets £12 (+BF) / £15 OTD

Doors at 7pm / Acts on soon after


“Truly innovative” – The Guardian

“Killer punchlines. Note-perfect, lyrically mind-blowing hip-hop improv. Genius!” – The Stage

“A star of the future!” – Time Out

“A freestyle talent that is unparalleled anywhere in the market. No two shows could ever be the same as they pick out audience members and freestyle about them, with comedic timing and witty rhyming that’s so impressive it could’ve been scripted.” – The Independent

“A mind-boggling feat that displays his impressive mental agility to great effect” – Edinburgh Festival Magazine

“Full of energy and chutzpah”, “Dazzling” ★★★★★ – Gigglebeats

“His energy level is awesome….. an unstoppable hint of genius.” ★★★★½ – ADELAIDE ADVERTISER.

“For the whole hour we were enthralled by a comedic mastermind at work” – Broadway Baby

“Clever, quick-witted and audacious”, “Broderick’s ear-to-mouth coordination is Olympic standard”, “sharp surefire laughs” – The Scotsman ★★★★

“It’s not long before he’s spitting genius couplets…masterfully fashioned into rave numbers, love songs or old-school rap.” “Razor sharp wit” – The List

“The most original act we’ve seen in a long time. Go and see them.” – Maxim.co.uk

“Impressive and thoroughly entertaining”, “An hour with the Abandoman boys is like pure sunshine, be prepared for your face to ache from laughing and your hands to sting from clapping so hard.” – Hairline ★★★★

“Abandoman are awesome; the next big thing in Irish comedy.” – Andrew Maxwell, Comedian

“Stole the show…a revelation and a first in live comedy” – Evening Herald, Ireland

“As inspiring in its simplicity as it is mind-blowing in its complexity: a must see.” – Spoonfed.co.uk

“Their energy is infectious” Metro


Saturday 4th October

Saturday - Napoleon-Dynamite

Leeds LaughterFEST Presents Creatures Of The Night


Hyde Park Picture House http://www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk/filmcalendar.php?start=2014-09-29#film-calendar

Screening Time – 11pm

Stalls – £6.40 / Balcony – £6.90

Concessions (Unemployed, Student, Leeds Card, Senior Citizen, Disabled)

Stalls – £5 / Balcony – £6

= Proof for Concession rates required

Collaborating with Hyde Park Picture House, who incidentally are celebrating its 100th year anniversary, we have joined forces to dust off a modern era classic indie gem ten years on – NAPOLEON DYNAMITE!

Sunday 5th October

Sunday - Friends

Leeds LaughterFEST Presents FRIENDS’zy


Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen http://www.belgravemusichall.com/


ATTENTION: Calling all Super FRIENDS fans!

Come celebrate a day devoted to Ross, Rachel, Joey, Chandler, Monica & Phoebe’s 20th year anniversary


(Last time out we had a staggering 64 teams with over 200 people enter)
6PM Onwards

£1 PER PERSON PER TEAM (Maximum 4 people per team)

Followed by


Let us know which is your favourite episode and the three with the most votes will be shown after the quiz

(You can vote on www.comedycultclassics.com and also Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen Facebook page

Could this BE anymore awesome…YES!
We’ll also have a Friends cocktail, Friends paleontologist dinosaur burger & a Friends themed pizza.

Could you KNOW anymore about Friends? Find out at Belgraves Friends quiz Sunday 5th Oct!

Monday 6th October

Monday - Off The Cuff

Leeds LaughterFEST Presents Off The Cuff


The Faversham http://www.thefaversham.com/

Doors at 7pm / Start of Show 8pm

£3 entry

Live improv and audience interaction is at the centre of this performance led project as games, jokes and silliness merge into one massively amusing melting pot!

Bring your imagination and put on your participation pants cos this one is fully unscripted, outrageous and unmissable…