UK Launches Comedy Festivals in Tandem with London Olympics

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Several large festivals, celebrating Britain's humor history, are planned for the duration of the international event.

LONDON -- Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Tim Minchin and Reginald D Hunter are among the myriad stars signed up to take part in a nationwide program of comedy events to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Other British stars of comedy and the small screen including Barbara Windsor, Brian Blessed, Jenny Eclair, Clive Owen, Alan Davies and Sandi
will also extend their funny bones to the London 2012 Festival.

The nationwide giggle biz kicks off this weekend with the start of Ha Ha Hackney, the Hackney Empire theater's two-month celebration of nearly
seventy years of the best of British comedy.

Taking as its starting point London's previous hosting of the Olympic Games in 1948, Ha Ha Hackney features shows, films and exhibitions that showcase
the eras of British comedy up to London 2012. The season opens July 8 with GayExtravaganza, an evening billed as having hilarity, heaven and high camp and hosted by Toksvig and Stephen K. Amos.

Separately, Playing The Games, the London 2012 Festival's comedy and performance season taking place at the Criterion Theater in central London
during this summer's Games. The shows feature comedians, actors and Olympians taking part in the first ever bespoke arts festival held in the heart of the capital's West End.

USA Gold medal winning former hurdler Edwin Moses, Ethiopia's Gold medalist long-distance runner Haile Gebrselassie and Team GB Silver medal winning former runner Kriss Akabusi are among the Olympians due to take the stage.