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The curtain has been lifted on the Sydney Comedy Festival once again, and for 2015 the program is bursting with the most spectacular and diverse live comedic offerings yet.

The talent ranges from the old faithful stars of stand-up, to promising newcomers just cutting their teeth on the comedy circuit. If you can’t find something to tickle your fancy on the bill of over 180 shows including stand-up, musicals, sketch, improv, gala events, children’s shows, showcases and more – well then we have you covered. Just as we believe your news should not be limited, we here at City Hub have launched the Hub Club which gives our supporters exclusive access to double passes from some of the best acts of the festival including Tommy Dean, Frenchy, Neel Kolhatkar, Em Rusciano, Joel Creasy, Jeff Green and Greg Fleet.

The one and only Tommy Dean picks up the mic once again for an intimate stand-up series exclusive to the Comedy Festival. You can join the Arizona-raised Sydney local for a fun and delightful hour of gaming based humour with Lessons Learned Gaming.

In his own words, “It’s sort of a philosophical, observational comedy based on things that I have learned through my life of playing board games, video games and any other games.”

Dean has hinted at his passion for board games since he started doing stand up in Australia in the early 1990s, but this is the first time he is doing a fully gaming focussed show, and he says that having children has reinvigorated his passion for board game theories: “I saw a lot of parallels in what I was teaching them with what games were telling me.”

Alongside the fellow festival first-timers stepping up to the mic – including breakout YouTube stars Neel Kolhatkar and Frenchy, who you can get two-for-one tickets for by supporting our indiegogo campaign – rising star Cyrus Beyzan brings his unique brand of stand-up to the revamped Enmore Theatre debut of the critically acclaimed Reluctant Confidence Man. In his one-hour show Beyzan (an Iranian born seasoned Australian) brings a fresh and clever look at life, love, family, food – and of course soap and animals.

Approaching observational comedy from an unusual style, Beyzan has earned comparisons to the likes of Jerry Seinfeld while also being part of a new and inclusive wave of fresh blood dominating the scene.

Speaking of diversity, this year of the festival includes an unprecedented amount of female talent and support for the ladies in comedy. With headlining acts including outspoken female stand-ups such as Cal Wilson (NZ) and Deanne Smith (CAN), ambitious one-woman shows including Em Rusciano’s The Motherload (AU) and Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It, alongside spectacular panels such as Frocking Hilarious.

Maeve Marsden of the cheeky cabaret quartet Lady Sings It Better, this year making their third appearance at the Sydney Comedy Festival, is amongst the performers applauding the festival’s progress:

“I think that if you’re going to critique the problems in an industry, you also have to be willing to celebrate when people start to get it right,” she says, acknowledging her complaints in previous years when the festival line-ups collecting in her email inbox wouldn’t even mention female acts.

Through hilarious on-stage banter and jaw dropping cabaret style re-workings of pop songs originally recorded by men, Lady Sings It Better host a laugh-out-loud critique of the inherent misogyny of music culture. Through devilishly bizarre interpretations, they also celebrate the catchiness of music ranging from the anthems of George Michael through to Jason Derulo. They pose the question “why can’t feminists enjoy sex and swear?”

While a comedy festival may leave you with cheeks sore from smiling and sides split from laughter, the true magic is the ability to unite and educate everyone in an accessible manner.

You might leave Cyrus Bezyan’s Reluctant Confidence Man having learned something new about what it is like to grow up in Australia as an almost-foreigner, you might walk out of Ross Noble’s Tangentleman having been departed with the randomised wisdom of this well-travelled Englishman, or perhaps you’ll leave Lady Sings It Better with a bruised childhood and eyes opened to societies niggling inequalities…

“You can’t click your fingers and suddenly you’ve got fifty-fifty representation,” explains Ms Marsden. “I’m realistic, but I think the more we keep focussing on trying to include women in line ups and encourage young women to get involved in comedy, the more diverse our comedy groups will be.”

While we may have marvellous technologies like HD streaming services entering the entertainment market and making televised comedy easier to access than ever, the energy of a live performance cannot be surpassed.

“The one thing that you just cant replace, the one thing that you just cannot get past, is being in a room with a group of people all experiencing something which is there on the night for the people in that room,” explains Ross Noble.

“You can never replace it. I suppose it’s a bit like porn, y’know? You can watch as many porno videos or DVDs as you want but it’s not like being there.”

The 11th Annual Sydney Comedy Festival. April 20 – May 17, 2015. Program: www.sydneycomedyfest.com.au. Tickets: www.sydneycomedyfest.com.au or call the Sydney Comedy Festival Box Office: 02 9020 6966.

Exclusive HUB CLUB access to double passes can be found by supporting us via Indigogo at the following website https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/don-t-make-your-news-limited#home