The inspiring Helen Prior performs tonight and tomorrow night at the Robin Hood pub in Sherwood. (Copyright Helen Prior)

A former art historian who has beaten cancer is one of the new acts to look out for at this year’s Nottingham Comedy Festival.

Helen Prior makes her debut tonight at the festival on Friday, November 4 at the Robin Hood pub in Sherwood in what is the thirteenth edition of the event that has been running since 2009.

She also performs at the same venue on Saturday, November 5.

Helen’s story is inspiring – now in her mid-60s she has overcome cancer and after losing her job during the pandemic has embarked on a new beginning in comedy during the last year.

“i want to encourage people not to give up whatever’s happened.”

Helen Prior, comedian

An art historian since she was 25 she uses this knowledge in the act to tell her story through art and is now taking her show around the country hoping to inspire people who’ve suffered from similarly tough times in her life.

She said: “I want to encourage people not to give up whatever’s happened, sometimes you think it’s the end of the line but actually it brings you to a new beginning – that’s what happened to me.

“It’s not necessarily about cancer it can be any disaster where you think your life has come to a stoppage and you think there’s no way back.

“There is a way back.”

She continued: “I’m an Art historian, so my show is unique because I use art masterpieces to reflect my life.

“I’ve got a mission to take my show around.”

Nottingham Comedy Festival aspires to bring together well established comedians with those just starting out.
(Copyright Helen Stead)

One of the things that the festival aspires to do is to bring together comedians who’re well established along with those like Helen who’re just starting out.

Rock Central Promotions is behind eight shows across the event and a highlight is on Tuesday night when JuiceBar will play host to their New Act Showcase in which eight promising comedians will take to the stage to similarly make their event debut.

Anthony Williams from Rock Central is hosting the event on Tuesday and was “really really excited” about it.

He said: “We’ve pinpointed a bunch of acts where we thought these guys have got some real potential and it’s really exciting that as part of the festival we’re getting to showcase some of the acts that have really impressed us.

“One of the really nice things about promoting comedy is that we get to see people as they progress and get better – we’ve only been going for three years but some of the acts that started gigging with us have gone on to win awards and are now full-time professional comedians.

He continued: “I think it’s only a matter of time before some of the acts we were in a little basement room with a couple of years ago will probably hit the TV; that’s really exciting and really rewarding.”

The Nottingham Comedy Festival runs from Friday, November 4 – Saturday, November 12.

For tickets for these and other events as well as a full list of acts visit

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  • The Nottingham Comedy Festival runs from Friday, November 4 – Saturday, November 12.
  • The festival has taken place every year since 2009 with the exception of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Having overcome cancer and lost her job during the pandemic, Helen Prior has embarked on a new beginning in comedy and now has hopes to take her show around the country.
  • Helen is also set to release a novel based on her experiences and told through her love of art.
  • Rock Central Promotions are based in Heanor and organise and promote comedy events for a range of different levels across the Midlands.