Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Comedy first for 127-year-old music and dance festival

Harriet Dyer Image copyright Harriet Dyer
Image caption Comedian Harriet Dyer said performing can be "cathartic"

Stand-up comics are to be given the chance to compete for the first time in the 127th edition of an arts festival.

The Manx Music Festival, which has seen prizes presented in a number of classes since 1892, will give comedians up to seven minutes to impress its judges.

It would give "budding" comics "hands-on experience" before "an encouraging audience", organiser Zoe Cannell said.

Rhi Evans, who runs a comedy night, said she hoped the move would "act as a catalyst" for a Manx comedy circuit.

"The island has a huge amount of talent in the arts but for some time, comedy has been quietly waiting in the wings," she added.

"It's absolutely brilliant that comedy is getting its recognition as an art form."

Image copyright Mairi Edwards
Image caption Angelos Epithemiou recently visited the island to perform

In recent months, Miss Evans has brought comedians such as Harriet Dyer and Angelos Epithemiou to the island for her 9 Across show, which also showcases emerging Manx talent.

"Comedy is an intimidating thing, but having it in the festival will act as a good first step - it will give people confidence and a platform," she said.

"I think this could be the start of something big, a new dynamic for the Isle of Man and an exiting time for comedy".

Miss Dyer said including comedy in the Douglas event was great for both performers and audiences.

The Cornish comedian said performing can be "cathartic" and "provides the audience with a real chance to forget what is going on in their world, sit back and just laugh."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The island has a rich comedy history, with comic legend Sir Norman Wisdom being a resdient for many years

Miss Cannell said stand-up was "completely new to the festival and we are very excited".

"I have no doubt the class will be one of our most popular for spectators."

Thousands of performers will compete in more than 200 classes at the festival, which starts on 27 April.

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