The National Arts Festival, which will run from 29 June to 9 July this year, is tearing up the comedy stage, starting with international comedian Stephen K Amos on the opening weekend. The globe-trotting laughter master will perform his new show WORLD FAMOUS on 2 and 3 July only.

Together with the Brighton Fringe, the National Arts Festival will be bringing IT’S ONLY BIRDS, Louise Reay’s trail-blazing language experiment in non-verbal communication, to the 2017 Festival: “You’ll understand it but won’t know why,” says Chinese-speaking Reay, who recently won awards in Brighton and at other World Fringe Alliance events in Adelaide and Edinburgh.

Home-grown talents John van de Ruit (Spud) and Ben Voss (Beauty Ramapelepele) are reunited for a savagely funny look at all that is wrong with the ‘Rainbow Nation’ in MAMBA REPUBLIC. Topics such as the Fees Must Fall movement, state capture, online dating, the economy, sport, technology, casual racism, an alternative national anthem, and even the most unusual football match in living memory, are given the once over by the duo. Succeeding its predecessors Green Mamba (2002) and Black Mamba (2005), the show will run from 2 to 8 July.

Trailing endless accolades and endorsements from international festivals – including the Brighton Fringe and last year’s Cape Town Fringe – the UK’s The Pretend Men will present POLICE COPS, an action-packed hour of adrenaline-fuelled physical comedy, cinematic style and uncompromising facial hair. Runs daily throughout the Festival.

There’s also the return of the ever-popular VERY BIG COMEDY SHOW (5 July), a one-night only comedy gala evening, produced and emcee’d by Rob van Vuuren. This year’s show will include Loyiso Gola, Tats Nkonzo,  Mojak Lehoko, Alan Committie, Louise Reay, Nik Rabinowitz and Virgil Prins. Expect to see plenty more exciting comedy reveals and familiar names once the Fringe programme goes online.