In case you were in any doubt that comedy was the new rock n'roll, enormo-mega-dome The O2 is hosting a blockbuster four-day comedy festival next spring — and it's headlined by Hollywood royalty aka Ryan Reynolds.
Just For Laughs London — taking place 2-5 March 2023 — is about as far from 'upstairs-in-a-pub' comedy as you can get — scooping up massive names from the Venn diagram of comedy, stand-up and podcasting, and sprinkling them liberally around venue inside The O2 complex, including at the 20,000 seater arena itself.
The biggest coup here is no doubt Vancouver's/Wrexham's finest Ryan Reynolds, who's in conversation with Rob Delaney (4 March) about his screenwriting/acting/entrepreneurial career, which to date has included the screwball superhero Deadpool franchise, and — as you'll know if you've been following Welcome to Wrexham — purchasing a lower league Welsh football team.
Not sure many would peg Reynolds as a comedian per se, but he's certainly in possession of a sharp sense of humour, and with Delaney at the helm, it should prove a fun night. At the very least you'll come away with more entrepreneurial nous than you would from a talk by Alan Sugar.
Elsewhere the hijinks come thick and fast, with stand-up from Shaparak Khorsandi, Katherine Ryan and Luisa Omielan; live podcasting from A Gay and A Non Gay; Nish Kumar in conversation with James Acaster (who's in the guise of undercover cop Pat Springleaf); a "Best of Bug" multimedia show from Adam Buxton; Jessica Fostekew's show Wench; and The Wrestling — a high-octane show from skitsters Max and Ivan, which sees various comedians in death-defying situations inside a wrestling ring.
There's also a 'variety gala' hosted by Graham Norton — presumably a take on a Royal Variety Performance kind of format — although details on this are scant at time of writing.
All in all, it's a pretty exhausting list of talent, and if you're staunchly not a fan of 'arena' comedy, it's worth nothing that most shows take place outside the actual arena.
Oh yes, the festival is joining forces with Comic Relief, which inevitably means an appearance from Richard Curtis, who's joined by various Comic Relief stars for an afternoon of "comedy, memories and mishaps."
Just For Laughs London is at The O2 place 2-5 March 2023. General sale tickets go on sale 10am on Thursday 24 November. Note: although billed as a festival, tickets are only sold on a show by show basis.