Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer


The CISF (Comedytrain International Summer Festival) is held every year at Amsterdam’s Toomler comedy club.

As part of the annual festival Toomler brings across some of the finest comics working in the UK, and this year is no different. From Wednesday to Saturday during the festival, you can enjoy a double bill of critically acclaimed performers.

In our CISF preview, we look ahead at some of the shows on offer and the acts that you simply can’t miss:


Paul Foot has achieved cult status in the UK. While he has made UK television appearances on huge shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Would I Lie To You? It is for his live performances that he has gained his reputation as truly one of the most unique comics around.
Watching Paul live is an experience you will never forget, as he bombards you with surreal and silly observations and jokes – definitely an act not to miss. Watch him do his thing here:

Joining Paul will be Sean McCloughlin. I haven’t seen Sean live yet, but he has a growing reputation back in the UK for being one of the fastest rising comedy stars in the country, with Time Out London calling him “the best comedian you’ve never heard of”. It seems like that might change, with him recently working with Ricky Gervais and Kevin Hart. So, this seems like a good opportunity to see one of the potential stars of tomorrow.

TIM KEY/ JOHN KEARNS – 17th-20th July

This is perhaps the show I’m looking forward to the most, featuring two of the smartest and original British comic voices.

Since winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show in 2008, stand-up poet Tim Key has become a comedy behemoth – working with some of the UK’s biggest names on projects such as Peep Show, Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe, 8 Out of 19 Cats Does Countdown and Inside No. 9. Perhaps most memorably, he has played Alan Partridge’s sidekick Simon Denton in the film I’m Alan Partridge and the TV shows Midmorning Matters and This Time with Alan Partridge.

Here he is on Newswipe:

Joining Tim will be another Edinburgh Comedy Award winner – JOHN KEARNS. The only comedian to win Best Newcomer and Best Show in back to back years (2013 and 2014), John has been one of my favourite comics since I saw him live just after he’d won Best Newcomer in 2013. Adopting a monks wig and false teeth as his stage costume, John’s appearance undercuts material that is by turns philosophical, melancholic, touching, hilarious and full of vividly drawn observations on normal life.

He’s got shades of classic tragicomic figures like Tony Hancock and Steptoe and Son, a funny stage persona that has always reminded me slightly of Tommy Cooper, and an understanding of the gentle absurdities of life that rivals Alan Bennett, but is completely unique. An act that has to be seen live.

YouTube does not do him justice, but here he is in action:

PHIL KAY / MARKUS BIRDMAN – 24th-27th July

Phil Kay was nominated for the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show in 1993 and since then has built a reputation as being one of the most unique and unpredictable voices in comedy. Since then he has hosted his own stand-up show on Channel 4 in the UK called Phil Kay Feels… and appeared on shows such as QI and Russell Howard’s Good News. Seeing Phil live is less like seeing a normal comedy show and more like seeing an event or happening, his freewheelin’ improvisational style means that every performance is a completely unique blend or stand-up, storytelling, guitar led songs, audience interaction, surrealism, wry observations and spontaneous silliness. One thing is for certain – whichever night you do go and see him, it’s guaranteed to be a one-off.

Here he is in action:

Joining Phil Kay for this double header is Markus Birdman. One of the most established and critically acclaimed club comics in the UK, Markus Birdman has developed a reputation as a writer of great gags and one of the most likeable but fearless comedians around. He has appeared on numerous radio and TV shows, including the BBC’s New Comedy Awards and Loose Ends, as well as appearing on the Dutch Netflix show Live at Toomler Amsterdam.

See him in action here:

LLOYD LANGFORD / FAHIM ANWAR 31st July – 3rd August

Lloyd Langford is one of the most consistently funny stand-ups working in the UK at the moment. The Welsh comic has a laid-back and friendly demeanour allied with some seriously sharp gag writing, which has seen him write for Live at the Apollo and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

In addition to this, he has appeared on 8 Out of 10 Cats, Russell Howard’s Good News, The Now Show and Ask Rhod Gilbert.

Here he is in action:

Joining Lloyd is a rising star of US comedy. Actor and comedian Fahim Anwar has appeared on Conan, Late Night with Seth Myers and Drunk History, and has been championed than none other than stand-up legend Bill Burr.

Here he is in action:

Our #CISFpreview is brought to you by Boom Chicago’s cast member Simon Lukacs.