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ARGComFest is a weekend comedy festival of Fringe previews and work-in-progress shows that takes place every July. The festival brings an attentively curated programme of sixty comedians — from big name TV favourites to up-and-coming newcomers — to the labyrinthine settings of Shoreditch Town Hall. In 2016, ARGComFest became the first major comedy festival to have a gender balanced programme and it continues to champion diversity and representation within comedy.
2019's programme included three-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee and indie-underdog Josie Long with her first new show in five years, as well as Nick Helm, Lou Sanders, John-Luke Roberts, Suzi Ruffell, Catherine Bohart, Larry Dean, and Glenn Moore.
We also had cult favourite Mat Ewins, plus most of 2018's Best Newcomer nominees: Olga Koch's feminist investigation into what happens when we can't separate love and technology; a stunning new show examining kindness, meanness and ex's from Sara Barron; and Sarah Keyworth exploring life's smallest details.
Joining them were plenty of new names, from Grace Campbell talking about hanging out with Putin's kids and surviving a childhood in British politics — her dad, Alastair Campbell, worked closely with Tony Blair for many years — to silly, sexy, savage stand-up Sophie Duker taking the audience an unconventional journey of self-discovery.
Other key artists included: Tom Parry, Gráinne Maguire, Garrett Millerick, and Stuart Laws.
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 uniquely interesting and high-quality programme and quickly grew: first to a full weekend, then to fill larger venues, and later to a third stage.
The festival has always focused on diversity and representation — but as the festival has grown, carving out its position in the comedy calendar along the way, it has become more bold and outspoken.
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 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.
In March 2020, ARG curated three venues at Glasgow International Comedy Festival: taking residence at vegan independent music venue The Hug and Pint and underground jazz club The Blue Arrow, as well as transforming an elegant art gallery into an intimate pop-up comedy venue.
This was ARG's third year at GICF and artists included Sophie Duker, Joz Norris, Lauren Pattison, Gaby Best, Mat Ewins, and Helen Bauer.
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 logos in multiple formats (including CMYK) as .zip (805 KB)
Festival Director: Pax Lowey
Festival Photographer: Ed Moore
- 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 returns for it's eighth year…" — the opposite is also fine.
- The shade of red used for festival branding is PANTONE 186 C, RGB (200,16,46) HEX (C8102E), or CMYK (2,100,85,6).