In June 2008, there were many news stories and commentaries in the media about the launch of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, both positive and negative.
Much was reported of the lack of sponsorship in the festival's first year, following reports that combined, the four venues involved in the festival made a £76,000 loss in 2007. At a press conference on Thursday 5 June explanations were made of the intention to plough sponsorship money back into the festival, with the long term goal of making the festival cheaper for acts.
One critic of the move was Tommy Shepherd, owner of Edinburgh comedy venue, The Stand Comedy Club, which itself hosts many comedy shows as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Shepherd was invited to form part of the festival but refused in spring 2008. Shepherd is director of Glasgow International Comedy Festival.
It is not, however, the first time the Edinburgh Comedy Festival name has been used. A similar project was attempted in the 1990s, with a cigarette brand as the sponsor.
The Edinburgh Comedy Festival 2008 ran from 30 July–25 August, alongside the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Only performances at Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly came under the auspices of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival. The four venues produced a joint brochure consisting of two sides - one presented as the Edinburgh Comedy Festival brochure, with shows of all other genres at those venues listed on the other side.
The shows in the Comedy Festival programme represented almost 90% of the comedy at the 2008 Fringe.
The Edinburgh Comedy Festival 2009 ran from 5–31 August 2009.