Harith Iskander has always been one of the more recognisable local celebrities around. With his bald head, mustache and pleasant demeanour, the actor and comedian definitely stands out in a crowd.

But after winning Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person In The World competition last year, however, Harith’s recognition has shot to an all-new high.

“Everyone’s been calling me ‘The World’s Funniest Person’, which is kind of embarrassing. I get shouted at with that in the street! And it could be from an 80-year-old uncle or an eight-year-old boy.

“The reception has been amazing, and the support from the people has been wonderful,” said Harith in an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

The award-winning comedian, with some of his funny friends in tow, will be taking to the stage for the Kuala Lumpur International Comedy Festival 2017 from April 21 to 23. Expect some of the biggest and best local and international names in comedy to be entertaining audiences over three fun-filled days!

The festival kicks off with a gala night, To Know Malaysia Is To Laugh Malaysia III, tomorrow. The night will feature Harith and local comedians, as well as international stars Paul Ogata (US), Prince Abdi (Somalia), Katerina Vrana (Greece) and Christopher Daley (Jamaica).

Greek comedian Vrana.

All the international comedians will also be performing their solo shows throughout the festival: Abdi’s IMA-IMAGRANT and Daley’s No Woman No Cry on April 22, and Ogata’s Nucular Realator and Vrana’s S#X on April 23.

“Paul Ogata is incredibly funny. To me, he’s Top Five in the world. He was probably the first name on my list for this. Prince Abdi was recommended to us by a comedy club in Singapore. What’s interesting is that he’s a Muslim, being Somalian, so there’s an interesting perspective to hear,” said Harith, who is the festival director.

“And Katerina and Christopher, I met during the World’s Funniest finals in Finland. All of us hung out, but these two struck me. I thought, if I were to bring any of them to Malaysia, these would be the first, because one, Malaysians would get their style of humour and two, they are aware of cultural differences while performing.”

This is the second instalment of the Kuala Lumpur International Festival. Its first instalment was held two years ago; Harith was also the festival director then.

This year, Harith will be performing in a few shows. On April 22, There’s Making Sh#t Up, which features local and international comedians performing improv comedy and Transform Through Laughter on April 23, which sees Harith combining comedy with messages about life and leadership.

Comedy festival 2017

Jamaican comedian Daley.

Also worth checking out is Harith’s Malaysia First, Singapore Second, which takes place on April 22 and 23. The title of the show is a reference to American president Donald Trump’s “America First” slogan, and the various spoof videos it inspired.

Other highlights are The Angry Indians, which features local comedians Andrew Netto, Kavin Jay, Prakash Daniel, Keren Bala Devan and Thenesh and Singaporean comedian Fakkah Fuzz’s Get The Fuzz Out. Afdlin Shauki will be performing some musical comedy at Afdlin Shauki: Standing up Singing: Vol 3 on April 22.

Fans of Bahasa Malaysia stand-up comedy are also in for a treat, as comedians Nabil Ahmad and JD Raja Lawak will be performing at Mele-STOP on April 21.

On April 22, Stendap Komedi features entertainment from big names like Nizam Jentik Jentik (from comedy reality show Lawak Solo), Botak Alhakeem and Sulaiman Azmil (Komediri), Mad Sabah and Rayza Mukmin (Maharaja Lawak Mega).

“BM stand-up comedy has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Their fans have seen them on TV, but don’t really get the chance to see them live. I’m staging this so the Malay community, who do not follow English stand-up comedy, have the chance to watch their local heroes perform,” explained Harith.

There would also be open mic competitions in both English and BM for budding comedians, with a prize of RM1,200 for first prize winners.

To get best value for the festival, comedy fans should pick up a Daily Pass at RM158. This allows them access to all shows playing on either April 22 or 23, as well as two shows playing on April 21.

“In my opinion, this festival features the best and funniest group of comedians that will be coming to Asia. We’ve really got the cream of the crop, at a rather affordable price, especially with the pass. It certainly shouldn’t be missed,” enthused Harith.

Kuala Lumpur International Comedy Festival 2017 takes place at various venues in Publika Shopping Gallery in KL. For specific show times, visit http://harithiskander.peatix.com/.