The West

City s bit of a laugh at this time of year

Make no bones about it, audiences can expect to get plenty of laughs over the next three weeks at the Perth International Comedy Festival.

Such is the excitement that Diggy Bones, the groovy alter ego of Perth actor and comedian Ben Sutton, has come out of hibernation to be the MC of the opening gala at the Astor Theatre tonight.

The festival may be presenting the cream of international comedy over the next 19 days but it hadn't overlooked the talents of local performers, Sutton said, as he hammed it up with fellow comedians Mike Goldstein and Damien O'Doherty.

"If you are an unknown comedian in Australia, you need to be on TV to build a profile or it is really hard, even in your home town, to compete against the bigger acts," Sutton said. "Hopefully, any good festival nurtures its local talent and we are lucky in that they have thought of that here in Perth."

Stephen K. Amos, Lawrence Mooney, Paul Foot, Daniel Kitson, Tommy Dean, Jeff Green, Felicity Ward and Peter Helliar are among the more than 50 acts at the Astor and other Mt Lawley venues.

The Comedy Allsorts slot, the Next Gen Comedy Competition and workshops with leading comedians have been included in the program to encourage new local acts.

"It is a really good opportunity for local performers to see the standard you need to be if you are going to be a successful touring comedian," Sutton said.

"It means you get better at your trade and can potentially tour and become one of those big names."

Diggy Bones had been on extended leave and Sutton has been concentrating on filmmaking.

But the funky, dentally challenged cat will also host the chilled-out festival club, the Late Night Yalumba Bar, upstairs at the Astor on Thursday to Saturday nights.

The Perth International Comedy Festival runs until May 19.

The West Australian

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