This month sees Glasgow transform into the world’s funniest city as the annual festival dedicated to stand-up comedy returns for a 21st birthday celebration which is sure to be loud, raucous – and of course funny.

What is it?

Held annually in March, the Glasgow International Comedy Festival (GICF) is one of the UK’s pre-eminent comedy festivals dedicated to the art of stand-up and comic performance – a wide field which includes live podcasts, musicals, character comedy, storytelling, clowning, theatre, puppetry, cabaret and improvisation (or ‘improv’ as it’s known in the comedy business). If it makes people laugh and you can do it on a stage without getting arrested, it’s probably happening somewhere in the city over the next few weeks.

When does it start?

This year’s GICF opens properly on Wednesday March 13 and runs until Sunday March 31. Pick of the opening day is probably the 40th anniversary performance by Dillie, Liza and Adèle – better known as sassy, Jazz Age cabaret trio Fascinating Aïda (King’s Theatre).

The Herald: Fascinating AïdaFascinating Aïda (Image: free)

Pick of the closing night?

It’s probably a toss up between Elliot Bibby’s winning blend of magic and comedy (Nice N’ Sleazy), or stand-up Susan Riddell, who brings her new show Wonder Woman to the venerable Stand Comedy Club following last year’s sell-out GICF performance. But there’s a whole more between those dates, and a dazzling line-up of comedy nuggets for the adventurous prospector.

Where does it happen?

Everywhere, pretty much. The 2023 event saw 450 events take place in 40 locations across the city, but this year’s festival has 50 venues lined up to host GICF events and organisers expect them to clock up more than 500 performances. Among the many venues hosting GICF gigs are: The King’s Theatre, Oran Mor, The Stand Comedy Club, Blackfriars, The Garage, The Glee Club, Van Winkle West End, Drygate, Saint Luke’s & The Winged Ox, and August House. Oh, and The Pavilion, of course, because you couldn’t have a celebration of comedy in Glasgow without utilising that legendary venue. Among the quirkier spaces being used is the Glasgow Gallery of Photography where Glasgow impvov team Improv Killed My Dog will be performing a show which aims to recreate an episode of cult 1980s cop show Magnum: PI based entirely on audience suggestions and what the performers have read on Wikipedia. What could possibly go wrong?

The Herald: Elaine C Smith is appearingElaine C Smith is appearing (Image: free)

Who’s performing?

Local girl and bona fide national treasure Elaine C Smith is doing a night of stand-up looking back on her career, though sadly that’s already sold out. Other big ticket performers appearing include Stewart Lee, his old comedy partner Richard Herring (he brings his Leicester Square podcast to Glasgow), Susie McCabe, local hero Frankie Boyle, Josie Long, Connor Burns and Reginald D Hunter. Those people are all old hands at the comedy game but among the debutantes is a fan of the beautiful game – Adam Miller, the man behind popular podcast Old Firm Facts, who is bringing his show to the live arena for the first time. Catch him at the Garage on March 18.

Anything else?

“The 2023 festival was outstanding, but it’s already looking like 2024 is going to be bigger and better,” says GICF Director Krista MacDonald. “We can’t wait to celebrate Glasgow as the funniest city in the world for 19 days of non-stop laughter, excellent comedy and the city’s famous community spirit. We’re delighted to welcome so many new venues and … it’s going to be a festival to remember!”

The Herald: Reginald D HunterReginald D Hunter (Image: free)

How can I get tickets?

Tickets can be purchased via the GICF website at, or in some cases by contacting the venues directly. A few shows, including Paddy McDonnell and Stuart Mitchell are already sold out. Check website for full details.