YOU’VE got to laugh. Well, it isn’t compulsory but it does help us get through life, which can get a tad grim at times.

Luckily for Glaswegians, the city is about to erupt into more of a hoot than usual when the White & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival stoats into town this week.

Now in its 16th year, it’s billed as “Europe’s largest comedy festival” – who’s measuring? – and features such household names as Ed Byrne, Limmy, David Baddiel, Jerry Sadowitz, Alexei Sayle, Mark Steel, Phil Differ, Shappi Khorsandi, and Elaine C Smith (of course, “household names” depends on the household, and from the copious list in the programme, I’ve included only those I’ve heard of, bearing in mind that, where there’s a loop, I’ll be out of it).

At any rate, this year, the festival will feature more acts than ever before: more than 500 shows at 54 venues. One of these venues will host the first two recordings of The Comedians at The King’s (Theatre), a new stand-up show where all the 24 acts are over 50, including Fred MacAulay (always funnier on stage than on the radio), John Moloney, Gary Little and Janey Godley.

Elsewhere, Alan Bissett will be performing his award-winning Moira Monologues in a double bill at the Citizens Theatre; local favourite Darren Connell (Bobby from BBC comedy Scots Squad) will be debuting his new show at Blackfriars Basement; and Ayesha Hazarika will be bringing her brand of political humour to her home town (at Oran Mor).

As well as stand-up, the festival will feature magicians, rappers, interactive comedy games, and shows inspired by everything from zombies through Elvis to Star Trek.

Another inspiring ideas is the Comedy Crawl taking in comedians at four West End bars and the Round the Clock Comedy Roadshow, which takes place over 12 hours with a different performance each hour.

If, after that, you fancy something a little less hectic, you might enjoy standing still and gawping at Andrew Laing’s photographs, taken over several years of documenting the festival and on show at The Glad Cafe on the city’s Southside.

Of course, we’ve only scratched the surface here. The trouble with huge festivals is trying to choose the few acts you can manage with your tattered purse and busy schedule.

Busy Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken isn’t performing a routine as far as I know, but she has promised “big Glasgow laughs and smiles aplenty”. That’s one politician’s promise that I think we can safely say will be kept.

The White & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival runs from Thursday until March 25.