Circuit Breakers

Circuit Breakers is a development fund to help up to 8 new comedians come and perform at Leicester Comedy Festival for the 1st time!

We did it!

On 5th Sep 2017 we successfully raised £1,545 with 29 supporters in 35 days

Circuit Breakers is a development fund to help up to 8 new comedians come and perform at Leicester Comedy Festival for the very first time!

    Who we are

Leicester Comedy Festival is the longest running comedy festival in Europe, having taken place each February since 1994.  The event started in 1994 as a student project, with students studying Arts Management at De Montfort University producing the first event as part of their final year studies.  The festival is produced by registered charity Big Difference Company (1135167) and all profits made are ploughed back into the annual event.

 One of our key aims from the very beginning was providing a platform for new & emerging comedians.  We have successfully done this over the years and now, in our 25th year, we want to encourage acts who don’t have full shows to come to the festival and provide them with professional support at the start of their careers.  Circuit Breakers will provide a supportive place for new and emerging acts to perform and develop their networks and contacts.  We think this is a new & different approach as it is for comedians who are at the very start of their careers.

“I have a long standing relationship with Leicester Comedy Festival.  I did the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition in 1997 and I won.  It was brilliant.  It was the first thing I had to attach to my name.  I’ve been back since. It’s been here for years; it’s such a long standing festival.  There is a brilliant comedy audience at the festival; they want to come and appreciate great comedy.”  Johnny Vegas

   Our aim

Projects such as Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year, Silver Stand Up and UK Pun Championships and our annual Awards Ceremony are all examples of how we have supported comedians.  These projects have helped to launch the careers of comedians including Romesh Ranganathan, Johnny Vegas and Jason Manford.  We know the festival is a great platform for emerging comedians and we want to continue to provide this. Sponsors and funds are increasingly difficult for us to sustain but we want to continue our commitment to support new talent.  Recent feedback from our audience has shown that a significant number massively value this part of the festival and want to support new talent themselves.  Hundreds of comedians attend the festival each year but we want to specifically support those who don’t have full shows yet, and allow them to benefit from being part of the longest running comedy festival in Europe.

 So, we are asking for support from you our audience, and comedy fans across the UK, for Circuit Breakers.  If you support our mission of continuing to provide a platform for new comedians, please support Circuit Breakers.

    The Circuit Breakers Project

Over recent years the festival programme has echoed the Edinburgh Fringe model of people doing full shows, mostly around an hour long.  There are some mixed bill shows but these tend to feature comedians who are reasonably established.

 We know there is an audience who want to seek out the newer acts during the festival and we also know there are plenty of acts from across the UK who want to come to Leicester but they are new and don’t have hour long shows.  Circuit Breakers will benefit comedians like this; the ones who are about to break on the comedy circuit. 

“I did my first ever hour long show at the festival and had a lovely time.  I use the festival as an opportunity to do work in progress shows, as a stepping stone to the Edinburgh Fringe or touring shows.” Sarah Millican

 We know that comedians massively benefit from performing at Leicester Comedy Festival.  They receive good publicity, can get reviews for their shows, increase their social media following, have the potential to get “spotted” by the industry and also maybe win an award or 2… 

We’ve always supported emerging acts and talent and want to continue that. Circuit Breakers is different as this project is to support those acts who don’t have a full show to bring to the festival.  We know there is a lack of showcase shows at Leicester Comedy Festival and we often have to turn acts away if they don’t have full shows.  So, we’ve put together this package to support new & emerging acts each year.  They will get support to come to the festival, plus professional support from the festival team, as well as paid gigs during the 19 days. 

   How the money will be spent

The money raised will be used to cover all logistic costs for comedians to attend Leicester Comedy Festival.  We will cover their transport, accommodation, marketing and critically we will pay them an industry standard rate for the shows they do.

 We will also support the comedians by providing

  • Professional support from the Industry (lunch and/or meetings with the festival team, promoters, media…)
  • Marketing package: website, social media, brochure, Festival street team
  • Circuit Breakers’ after party
  • Invite to the Gala Preview Show and the after show party


The Gala Preview Show - Jan 12th 2018

The annual Gala Preview Show has taken place each year since 2002.  The sell-out show features an exciting line up of festival acts who will all give a taste of their main festival shows and the show is held together by a headline compere.  Past acts have included Mel & Sue, Lee Mack, Milton Jones, Shappi Khorsandi, Sarah Millican, Josh Widdicombe and Lee Nelson.

 The Circuit Breakers’ show – Feb 16th-17th 2018

The showcase of our latest project, Circuit Breakers.  Come and see the best emerging comedians in the UK and enjoy them before they become famous and start performing in massive venues.  Your chance to see acts before they hit the big time.

After parties

Every year we host a series of exclusive and private VIP parties.  These parties have never been open to members of the public, until now.  Your chance to mingle with festival acts and special guests.


I want to know more about Leicester Comedy Festival

The festival is produced by registered charity Big Difference Company, alongside other projects and events throughout the year.  To find out more about the festival please visit

I want to know more about Big Difference Company

Please visit

What happens to my money if the target is not reached?

This crowdfunding campaign is based on a flexible model, which means that Big Difference Company will receive the pledges, whether the finale target is reached or not.

One of our main aims is to support new talent and provide a starting point for their careers. If we reach the £10 000 target, it will help us build the Circuit Breakers’ project with more confidence and strength. If we don’t, the project will still happen, but it will be more difficult to achieve the level of expectations that we are aiming for.

Is my donation anonymous?

Any donation is anonymous and won’t appear on Crowdfunder. However, to able us to get your rewards, we will ask for some of your details and we have said that we will credit everyone that pledges money on our website. If you would rather remain totally anonymous, and not receive any rewards, you can pledge money by clicking on the “just donate” section above.

How and when will I get my rewards?

Discount on tickets for the Gala Preview Show: Once you’ve made your pledge, your contact details will be transferred to De Montfort Hall, who will send you a code to use when purchasing your tickets.  Full details will be in the email they send you

Prize draw: The winner of the Prize draw will be selected after the closing of the campaign and will be contacted by email.

Tickets for Circuit Breakers: Tickets for this show will go on sale in November, if you pledge for this reward, you will be contacted closer to that time with more details on the process.

Night in a hotel: If you pledge for this reward, you will be contacted closer to the Festival with all details.

Signed poster: You will be presented with your signed poster at the Circuit Breakers’ After party.  

I have already bought tickets for the Festival, why should I donate money in addition to that?

The money you pay for a ticket goes direct to the act, or in some cases is split between the act and the venue. The festival does not set ticket prices and does not directly benefit from the income from ticket sales.  Less than 5% of our annual income comes from public subsidy; the rest of our income comes from sponsorship, earnt income, fundraising events such as our annual Stand Up Challenge and an increasing number of donations from members of the public.

I am a comedian, can I be a Circuit Breaker?

The definitive list of criteria will be announced soon, but some of the criteria will be:

  • You don’t already have a full hour show
  • You haven’t performed at Leicester Comedy Festival before
  • You haven’t performed at Edinburgh Fringe before
  • You haven’t got an agent or a manager or other representation for your comedy performance
  • You must be available for Fri 16th & Sat 17th February 2018

I am a comedian and would like to apply to take part, how do I do that?

The submission process will be announced towards the end of August, and the applications should open in September.

I want to be more involve with Big Difference Company/Leicester Comedy Festival, how can I help?

There are different ways of supporting Big Difference Company and/or Leicester Comedy Festival:

Any other way you could think of is welcome, we appreciate any input or ideas from everyone who wants to get involved:

Thank you! 

Read full story

Got an idea like this?

Start your Crowdfunder