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GCF - Jimmy_Carr.jpgIt's a brave person who steps onto the stage to face the Glasgow crowds for a comedy gig. In a city that prides itself on its rapier-like wit, a comedian's fortunes stand on that knife-edge: do well, and the laughs are loud with banter galore, while one slip is all it takes for the punters to start trying to outwit the hapless victim onstage.

This doesn't stop a multitude of performers flocking to the city from all corners of the globe for the Glasgow International Comedy Festival – Europe's largest dedicated comedy jamboree, now in its 11th year.

This year's headliners include Phill Jupitus playing three characters in his show You're Probably Wondering Why I've Asked You Here, Paul Merton in improvisation mode and Mock the Week regular Andy Parsons – not to mention Harry Hill, Jimmy Carr (pictured) and Al Murray.

For those wanting to go slightly more off-piste, why not try Sanderson Jones, whose own brand of 'digital comedy' sees the comedian selling tickets direct to the audience and subsequently weaving snippets about them into his show. Alternatively, check out Julia Sutherland, who will be telling the tale of her journey from being severely obese to a size 10 in the gym where she worked out to shed those pounds.

Meanwhile, Francesca Martinez will be asking 'What the f*** is normal?' in a blistering show that looks at what happens when you're called 'abnormal' in a world obsessed with normality. The cerebral palsy sufferer tackles the subject, explaining why she prefers the word 'wobbly' to describe her condition.

Other top tips from festival organiser and comedy know-all Tommy Sheppard include Susan Calman ('a star in the making') and Tony Law ('a comedy genius').

While 56 venues are taking part, the place to be is The Stand – the city's premier comedy destination, whose intimate atmosphere and fun soundtrack keep the energy high and the laughs loud. It's apparently the place to hang out and drink with the performers themselves, who are often found quenching their thirst at the bar.

So head north to wrap your laughing gear round this bustling funny festival.

Glasgow International Comedy Festival takes place from 14-31 March. For more information and tickets, visit the festival website. And to book your trip to the city, visit the See Glasgow website.

This story was published in February 2013.

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