December 5, 2023

Kilkenny Cat Laughs 2019 was most sucesssful ever: festival director


AFTER a quarter century of laughs, Kilkenny’s internationally-renowned comedy festival is still getting bigger and better.

The Cat Laughs’ silver jubilee thrilled fans with some of the best international and Irish comedians including Tommy Tiernan, Dylan Moran, Ed Byrne, Neil Delamere, Zoe Lyons, Rosie Jones, Dara Ó Briain, Rich Hall, Angela Barnes and more.

And Festival 2019 proved to be the biggest year so far, with ticket sales up from last year and a positive reaction from audiences.

Festival Director Matt Smyth said he is delighted how the festival has grown and evolved to incorporate new elements.

Matt told “When you look back on where the Cat Laughs has come from, in 2020 it’s incredible to see how the performer numbers has grown. So much so that there’s now strands within the festival for different types of comedy and different levels such as ‘The Rockies’ and ‘STRAY’. You know a festival has grown when it’s having almost mini festivals within itself.”

Matt says the reaction on social media to the comedy acts was extremely positive: “We’re chuffed with how much the audiences, comedians, volunteers and anyone else that engaged with it had such a good time.”

The Cat Laughs is known for its relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and exciting line-ups, and is now one of the most popular festivals on the international comedy stage.

Matt said: “They come from all over. Fáilte Ireland are brilliant supporters of the festival, so they love informing us of people travelling from the US, Finland, Germany and the UK each year to name a few. One of the staff overheard an American couple who chanced a gig who went straight to the hotel to book themselves straight into the same weekend for next year – fans for life!”

Most of the acts went down a storm with audiences, but there were a few names in particular that were on everyone’s lips.

“It’s so hard to name one act without actually starting a list and going through all of them. I think Rosie Jones, The Bear Pack and Alan Davies were the names people were talking about all weekend as well as DoD’s (David O’Doherty) new stuff. But like, everyone was on fire. I could easily name 50 different acts!” Matt added.

To celebrate the festival’s 25th birthday, special shows were held at The HUB, Cillín Hill which featured Cat Laughs favourites and brand new talent on each line-up. These included Dara Ó Briain, Rich Hall, Ed Byrne, Zoe Lyons, Alan Davies, Tommy Tiernan, David O’Doherty, Phill Jupitus, Adam Hills and Joanne McNally.

“The two big birthday gigs in the HUB on the Saturday and Sunday night were a nice way to bring the celebration to the biggest audience possible (1,200 in each night!) so it was a lovely way for each comic to say their piece about the festival to the biggest captive audience,” Matt explained.

The Cat Laughs has been the stomping ground for many comedians starting out, including Aisling Bea, Dara Ó Briain, Graham Norton, Maeve Higgins, Joanne McNally, Deirdre O’Kane, Dylan Moran,David O’Doherty, Des Bishop, Ardal O’Hanlon and more. This year was no different and the audiences reacted well to some festival first-timers. “Roisin and Chiarra, the comedy duo from London, went down a storm. As well as Larry Dean and Jamali Maddix having super first festivals. Of course Le Gateaux Chocolate was stunning as part of the Soho theatre night!” Matt added.

With such talented acts performing last weekend, Matt found it difficult to pick a favourite from the festival. “Like all my children I couldn’t pick one of them. When I was younger Dylan Moran (pictured above) was my favourite comic and I have to admit is was special seeing him live in Kilkenny this weekend,” he said.

Organising a festival of its size is not for the faint-hearted and Matt and his team are back to the drawing board next week to start planning Cat Laughs 2020.


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