Doug Anthony All Stars reunite to begin Canberra Comedy Festival
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Doug Anthony All Stars reunite to begin Canberra Comedy Festival

The reunited Doug Anthony All Stars kicked off the second annual Canberra Comedy Festival gala event on Tuesday night, which featured a lot of laughs and a stellar cast of performers.

The festival has officially begun and will run from March 4-9, with comedy acts from around the world performing at multiple venues across the ACT.

THEY'RE BACK: Doug Anthony All Stars Tim Ferguson and Paul McDermott with guest Paul Livingston, opened this year's Canberra Comedy Festival.

THEY'RE BACK: Doug Anthony All Stars Tim Ferguson and Paul McDermott with guest Paul Livingston, opened this year's Canberra Comedy Festival.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

About 1000 people attended the gala opening and organisers said more than 4000 tickets had already been sold.

The All Stars were one of the first acts to sell out, with tickets to their ANU Arts Centre performance no longer available.

Group member Tim Ferguson said it was touching that people still cared about the group. ''It's very exciting to come back and reconnect with what I think is the same audience that was here 30 years ago,'' he said. ''I don't know who has to take a good, hard look in the mirror, but either the audience does or we do.''

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Fellow All Star Paul McDermott said, with the group reforming for the festival, audiences would get a chance to see the ravages of age up close. ''Thirty years ago, comedy was very different, people were a lot more receptive to things that didn't work back then,'' he said. ''Now everyone's got to have a joke every 30 seconds, be funny twice in a minute - we never bothered.''

The third All Star, Richard Fidler, won't appear at the show due to his busy schedule, and will be replaced by well-known comedian Paul Livingston.

Comedian Sammy J said he'd often performed in Canberra and always found the audiences to be fantastic. He has put together some of his favourite songs into one show called The Sammy J Songbook. ''It's for people who may have seen bits and pieces of me but have never had the full experience of my bird-like body towering over them,'' he said.

Tom Gleeson, who performed at the gala night and has another show scheduled for Wednesday, revealed he has a special connection with Canberra. He came second in the Canberra Irish Club's Green Faces competition in 1998, winning $500.

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''It's not bad. It was a road trip, too, first time in a Tarago full of comedians,'' he said.

Local performers will also get a chance to tickle their home town's funny bone, with Canberra comedian Eddy Nelson performing at sold-out gigs at the ANU. She said the festival was an example of how the ACT comedy scene was thriving.