After two weeks of watching and performing comedy on a daily basis in Edinburgh, there’s always the concern that I’ve become a comedy version of Mr Creosote. Just one more gig – even if ‘whaffer thin’ – may finish me off.

Luckily the Liverpool Comedy Festival has been moved back to the end of September, so there’s now enough of a breather between mirthful meals to digest another smorgasbord of shows. And that’s without even mentioning dessert – the Southport comedy festival in mid-October.

For now though, bearing down on us, we have the opening acts of the Liverpool festival of laughter. I’ve picked out a few highlights coming up towards the end of the month that you should make the effort to see this year.

As an appetiser there are three main gigs on over the weekend of 21-22 September: Laughterhouse and The Slug & Lettuce feature the immense presence of Aussie Steve Hughes, Matt Reed & John Warburton; Comedy Central on the Albert Docks has Keith Carter as Nige, Alan Francis and Martin Mor; Saturday has the Hot Water Comedy Club at the Crown pub and sees another great character act in Danny Pensive plus a rare treat as regular MC Paul Smith takes the headline spot.

But it’s the following week when everything gets into full swing, as well as the big three’s usual weekend line-ups, the Liverpool Comedy Festival officially kicks off on Thursday 27 September.

A good way to start is to see the next breed of comedians and the first lot have barely left the foetal position. The Stand Out Young Comedian of the Year Grand Final 2012 takes place at 7pm on Thursday 27 September at BBC Radio Merseyside on Hanover St.

Hosted by Mel Giedroyc (frequently seen commiserating over a dropped franginpane flan on The Great British Bake Off), it features the best 11 – 14 year olds who took part in The Comedy Trust Stand Out Programme, run by a local charity that takes comedy workshops into Liverpool schools.

One act with a bit more experience, but with a whole new show, is Nige: Liverpool’s Greatest Secret on 28 September at The Epstein Theatre. Moving beyond his much-loved character Nige, Keith Carter is ready to spring more comic creations on the world at the recently reopened Epstein (formerly The Neptune Theatre). Laughterhouse are certainly producing a fine programme for the new venue.

On Sunday 30 the fringiest fringe experience of 2011 hits Bold Street, courtesy of Simon Munnery’s non-dining dining experience La Concepta. It’s completely free, you just have to make a reservation and, oh yes, only four people will be selected to take a seat at this most exclusive of tables.

Other things to keep an eye out for include The Laugh in the Loaf’s first festival show – The Master Baker’s Gold – on Thursday 27 featuring three of the best comics from this year’s previous show, plus a guest headliner.

On Sunday 30 you can take your pick from Like It Is at Baa Bar – featuring a strong line up of Katie Tracey, Helen Keeler & Kate McCabe – whilst further afield The Elephant in Woolton features Sam Harland, Ste Porter and Che Burnley.

For those who like the big names both Jack Dee and Jason Byrne are on at the Liverpool Empire (28 and 30 September respectively), but they don’t need the publicity.

I’ll be back with the second half of the comedy festival and some interviews with the comedians coming to Liverpool later on this week, until then check out my comedy podcast at Liverpool Comedy Quota.

Liverpool Comedy Festival
27 September – 7 October
Various venues around Liverpool

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