Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2016 is underway, with hundreds of comedy events planned in the city between now and the 21st February.
A panel of experts linked to the festival have convened and drawn up a list of the comedians performing in the city this month that they predict will make it big in 2016. Here's their selections and associated comments:
Mat Ewins is a writer and comic performer whose blend of stand-up, sketch, and character comedy is inventive, original and hilarious in equal measure.
Hailing from Leicester, Ewins has been roundly praised for his live work, but the panel think 2016 could be the year that marks Ewins out from the rest: "Mat Ewins has a unique mind, he is in his 7th year, this is the one!"
Marny Godden brought to life a collection of very colourful characters as part of hugely popular cult comedy show The Grandees. She brings her debut solo show to Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival; a mixture of clowning and storytelling, marking her out as a bold new voice in comedy, which the panel call "crazy talented."
Sofie Hagen broke through last year with her Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2015 best newcomer show Bubblewrap, which the panel described as "funny, moving and beautifully crafted." 2016 could well be the year that sees her go stellar.
Spencer Jones received the most mentions from the panel, who praised his knockabout, almost silent style "using toys as props and recalling Tommy Cooper and Rowan Atkinson. It's silly and stupid but you can't stop yourself from loving it... Clowning has become a regular fixture of the comedy world in recent years with the likes of Dr Brown showing that there is an enthusiastic audience for weird, wordless humour."
Adam Larter is best known in comedy circles as the founder of Weirdos Comedy Club, famous for its unhinged alternative Christmas pantos and for an impressive collective of alternative comedians.
The festival's panel predicts big things for Larter in 2016, stating: "Adam Larter is the most prolific writer of successful full length shows putting out several different hour shows each year that now regularly sell out (his Harry Potter show sold out Leicester Square Theatre's main room, his panto sold out a 4 night run in advance). He is a true creative but he is also threatening to burst beyond the wonderful cult following."
James Loveridge was a runner up in the Amused Moose Laugh Off Final 2015. In his first year he made the Semi-Final of 'So You Think You're Funny?', won The Comedy Cafe New Act Night on his first attempt as well as beating the King Gong at The Comedy Store in Leicester Square.
The panel say simply of Loveridge: "He's an absolute joy."
Elf Lyons has only been performing comedy for a few years, but she's already garnering a lot of industry attention, with the panel saying: "She is a delightful performer... entirely sui generis. She is her own hilarious creation and time in her poshly funny, self deprecating company is a genuine joy."
Tim Renkow, winner of the Leicester Square New comedian of the Year 2013 and nominated for the Chortle Best Newcomer Award 2014, is known for shocking audiences up and down the country with his brutally honest material, often drawing upon his cerebral palsy and southern American background.
The panel predict he is destined for success in 2016: "Tim Renkow is one of the very best joke writers on the circuit and has an unbelievably high rate of smashing gigs."
Sam Simmons, winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award 2015, has been a stalwart of the avant-garde live comedy scene for some time, but the panel predict that 2016 will be the year he breaks into the mainstream.
"In his latest show, Spaghetti for Breakfast, he welded his weirdness to some more relatable gags about the things in life that wind him - and us - up."
Simmons will be performing work in progress of his new show, Sam Simmons Is Not A People Person, at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival - one of the first opportunities for UK audiences to see what he's got in store for 2016.
Jim Smallman is not what you'd call a newcomer; he's been performing comedy since 2005. But the stand out story behind his 2015 show My Girls (nominated for Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival Best New Show last year) is his most honest and personal to date.
Smallman will be performing a work in progress version of his new show, Biscuits For All, at the festival and the panel say they can't wait to see it.
Geoff Rowe, the founder and director of Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival, says: "Discovering the rising stars in comedy and experiencing the variety of unique events happening across the city is what makes Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival special. Festival goers can also expect to be one of the first to see new material from established UK comedians, making the festival the ultimate UK destination in February."
To browse the complete festival programme - featuring 780 shows across more than 65 city venues - visit www.comedy-festival.co.uk