The UAE stand-up comedy scene will celebrate the Laughter Factory's 15th anniversary this week.
The Dubai-based company will launch its next run of stand-up comedy performances with the British comedians Junior Simpson and Josh Howie and the American Dave Fulton performing at Heroes in Abu Dhabi's Crowne Plaza before six more shows in Dubai and two dates in Doha.
The Laughter Factory co-founder Gail Clough, who books and transports the comedians as well as hosts the events, doesn't mind the hard work. "It is a labour of love and it is addictive in its own way," she says.
Clough describes the Laughter Factory's growth as a blessing. When launching the first night with her business partner Duncan Jones in 1996 with shows at The Club in Abu Dhabi and Dubai's Hyatt Hotel, their goals were rather modest.
"I really just wanted to have a laugh," she recalls. "At that time Duncan and I both had jobs, he was a musician and I was DJ, and we wanted to see some comedy but there was nothing good around, so we decided to make our own night."
From that opening night, headlined by the UK's Noel James, Gary Skyner and Alan Bates, the Laughter Factory's stature grew to attract international comics on the rise including a young Russell Peters, Daniel Kitson and Ross Noble.
What Clough is most proud of, however, is the Laughter Factory cultivating a young, comedy-literate audience. "They are younger and more clever," she enthuses. "Back then we had a much older crowd who were used to jokes that had a beginning, middle and punchline. Now people enjoy listening to stories and material that makes them think."
Clough says she resisted the idea of creating a 15th anniversary celebration; she enjoys keeping it business as usual. "All of our comedians are of a certain standard, so there is no need for a best-of show," she says. "As far as we are concerned, every show should be a best-of or we are not doing our job properly."
The Laughter Factory comedy nights run in Abu Dhabi and Dubai from Tuesday until June 15. For more information, visit www.thelaughterfactory.com