30 June – 2 July 2023
Press / Business contact:
ARGComFest is a weekend comedy festival of Fringe previews and work-in-progress shows that takes place every summer. The festival brings an attentively curated programme of over sixty comedians — from big name TV favourites to up-and-coming newcomers — to the labyrinthine settings of Shoreditch Town Hall.
Returning this year following a sold-out show in 2022, ARG and Shoreditch Town Hall present The Friday Night Show — a spectacular, star-studded showcase of comedians at the top of their game! This year's blockbuster bill is hosted by Olga Koch and features Nish Kumar, Alison Spittle, Janine Harouni and Bridget Christie — with even more to be announced.
Our festival programme celebrates and attracts diversity in all its forms. ARG is committed to making live comedy more accessible and inclusive and this year's programme features live captioned performances throughout the weekend.
This year's festival features former Mash Report host and two-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Nish Kumar; Writers Guild Award winner for Best Radio Comedy Olga Koch; and 2023 Taskmaster star and Off Menu self-doxxer Ivo Graham.
The weekend includes Never Mind The Buzzcocks regular Jamali Maddix; BBC Sounds Wheel of Misfortune podcast co-host Alison Spittle; people's princess and TikTok starlet Daniel Foxx; three-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Kieran Hodgson; and “the king of online” Mat Ewins.
Expect tales of romance, a hologram and a near-death experience in Thorpe Park from Celya AB; jokes (mainly) about how weird and annoying capitalism is from working-class comedian Tom Mayhew; and routines on Greta Thunberg, the Queen and calling you all a bunch of virgins from Chloe Petts. We have Nabil Abdulrashid with new material about trying to be a good person while staying a badman; a show about strength, the female body and how awesome the NHS is in Scotland from Thanyia Moore; and a surreal and silly interactive stand-up show/birthday party from Cerys Bradley.
We're presenting hotly anticipated debuts including Priya Hall's show Grandmother's Daughter — a joyful tribute to one old Welsh lady and the impossible standards Priya has to live up to as she prepares to become a matriarch of her own family; Lulu Popplewell exploring the links between Love Actually, smoking crack, the Daily Mail and sunburn; Freya Parker (as seen in sketch duo Lazy Susan and Jurassic World: Dominion) navigating the struggles of trying to remain cheeky when it's raining trauma; and Welsh, Brown, Gay, Gen-Z comedian Leila Navabi with a show about how unethical it is to artistically exploit marginalised identities for social gain.
Janine Harouni explores her Arab roots, pregnancy, and what happens when your DNA test does not go to plan; Stuart Laws talks about getting married, being middle of the road and trying to be more honest; Sikisa worries about words, in a story of rediscovery and reflection; John Travulva critiques his best-known tick-box character: queer, non-binary, neurodiverse class-straddler Jodie Mitchell; and following last year's critically-acclaimed, sell-out debut, Ania Magliano returns with a show about the worst haircut of her life.
The weekend's fantastic hosts include creator and star of BBC Radio 4 sitcom The Dream Factory Joz Norris; comedy goblin and Oscar losing Writer's Assistant (Borat 2) Saima Ferdows; and creator of international cult comedy night Storytellers' Club Sarah Bennetto. Joining them are the “marvellously dark & dangerous” (Scotsman) Richard Sandling, the “smart and smutty” (Evening Standard) Annie McGrath, and the “wonderfully quirky” (Time Out) Nathaniel Metcalfe.
For the most up-to-date programme including full show information and press quotes, visit the line-up page.
ARG is committed to making live comedy more accessible and inclusive, and ensuring that live comedy is welcoming to all audiences, artists and staff.
This year we are delighted to be working with Claire Hill, who will be providing live captioning for a number of performances throughout the festival weekend. Claire has 25 years of experience as a stenographer and has recently captioned James Acaster and Bridget Christie’s national tours.
Claire will be live captioning The Friday Night Show and half the shows happening in our largest preview space over the weekend. We are aware that this is just a start and keenly understand the importance of including access provision as standard across all our programming. We are proud to see that more venues and promoters are taking accessibility into consideration and as a festival, we are committed to expanding our access offer to include alternative provision (such as British Sign Language) and to cover our whole festival programme by 2028.
We are delivering this year's live captioning without any external funding or subsidy.
In 2012, ARGComFest was founded as a day of comedy across two floors of a pub in King's Cross with two main goals:
- to allow people to see the best Fringe shows in London with excellent value tickets — but still within a Fringe-like atmosphere
- to provide comedians with paid previews — as many acts frequently lose money on previews due to prohibitive venue hire costs
Over the following years, the festival established a recognisable identity and a strong reputation for a discerning, high-quality programme. It quickly grew: first to a full weekend, then to fill larger venues, and later to a third stage.
As the festival has grown, carving out its position in the comedy calendar along the way, it has become more bold and outspoken about issues facing live comedy and wider society.
Since 2012, the festival has absorbed booking fees whenever possible (and reduced ticket prices to compensate when not); moved to a significantly more accessible venue; promoted the No More Page 3 campaign; encouraged festival-goers to donate to food banks, LGBTQI+ and domestic violence charities; partnered with local businesses; and kept any ticket price increases well below inflation — even when adding an extra stage with an accompanying 50% increase in acts.
ARGComFest was the first major comedy festival to have a gender-balanced programme and it continues to push the boundaries of diversity and representation in live comedy.
From 2018 to 2020, ARG also curated and ran a number of venues at Glasgow International Comedy Festival. This programme included a residency at vegan independent music venue The Hug and Pint, as well as transforming an elegant art gallery into an intimate pop-up comedy venue. ARG will return to GICF in the future.
Quotes & Recognition
the ultimate concentrated comedy event … ARGComFest is the comedy Glastonbury
intense, ridiculously good-value festival
[ARGComFest] has become an integral part of Fringe preparations … from its first year it developed a reputation for the calibre of its line-ups.
Download these photos in their high resolution original format from Google Drive here — to be credited to Edward Moore. Other images available on request.
Download high resolution publicity images for every artist on both The Friday Night Show and the weekend festival (not shown here) from Google Drive here — all credits within file-names.
Download logos in multiple formats (including CMYK) as .zip (805 KB)
- The festival title is always written as either ARGComFest (no spaces) or in full as Actually Rather Good Comedy Festival.
- Common mistakes include: adding spaces ('ARGCom Fest'), partially abbreviating ('ARG Comedy Festival'), or missing sections of the title ('ARGFest') — these are all incorrect and confusing due to similarly named festivals.
- Listings often have 'ARGComFest' as the title and the blurb opens with the full name, for example: "Actually Rather Good Comedy Festival is back, bigger than ever!" — the opposite is also fine.
- ARG is the company, ARGComFest is the festival.
- The shade of red used for festival branding is PANTONE 186 C, RGB (200,16,46) HEX (C8102E), or CMYK (2,100,85,6).
Credits / Team
Founder/Director: Pax Lowey she/her
- Instagram: @pxlwy
- Web: paxlowey.com
- Email: [email protected]
Photographer: Edward Moore he/him
- Instagram: @edshots
- Web: edshots.co.uk
- Email: [email protected]
Designer: Ashley Howard they/them
- Email: [email protected]
Producer: Melissa Rutnagur she/her
- Email: [email protected]