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Case Studies

On this page you will find some case studies and reflections on major projects we have accomplished both for ourselves and other organizations, what we learned from them, and how we will continue to strive for growth. So have a scroll and look at some of our past success and growth stories.

KISS Arts Fest

The KISS Arts Festival is a free, multi-generational, mixed arts & comedy/circus/variety festival that takes place in beautiful Kiama NSW, by Dave and Tamara (Laughter House Directors). Below is a case study of Kiss Arts Festival, including brief outline of the history of the event and how it came to be. You can learn more at

When Tamara and Dave came up with the idea of KISS, they had just moved – kind of – to Australia, they were really only living here for 3 months of the year whilst they spent the rest of the year touring Europe! They had spent the last 20 or so years performing on the European festival circuit playing to huge audiences almost every weekend of the long summer and now they wanted to bring a bit of that joy back to Australia.


Kiama seemed like the perfect location – close to Sydney, thriving tourist season and a beautiful natural backdrop. The first year really was a “throw it all against the wall and see what sticks” kind of affair and Tamara and Dave bank-rolled almost all of it. There was a 500 seater Big Top, there were two specially commissioned shows, there was a street theatre program, there was a talent quest, there was a massive community art project and a lavish opening night gala with a 4 piece band from Orange! It ran over 10 days and everybody loved it, all 300 of them! Having learned lots of lessons and spent a lot of money, they scurried back to their drawing boards to plan the next year.


Several things had happened. The beginnings of something great for sure, but more importantly the differences between the European Arts Festival market and the Australian Arts Festival market had been painfully highlighted. Namely that there isn’t one in Australia, or not a comparable one to Europe. Even down to things as simple as calling it an Arts festival. They thought that this would neatly encompass all genres of the arts whereas audiences complained that there was no paintings! Several other problems emerged from this discovery, the audience had nothing to compare it to. Which sounds great as far as marketing a unique event goes but just makes things really hard!


Another perhaps naive mistake was to commission shows for a festival in it’s first year – that’s a 10 year old festival kind of thing. First year thing to do would have been to invite all the amazing shows that are killing it all over the world to your festival and bask in their glory without all the work of producing one yourselves!


Anyhow, year two looked very different. No 500 seater Big Top! The festival had a Street Theatre focus above all else and actually went very well. We managed to accrue new sponsors and the beautiful Jamberoo Pub came on board where we did our closing shows on Sunday afternoon in their beer garden – still a festival highlight for me. It was not that we had struck on a winning formula, more that it was a hell of a lot closer to what we had envisaged in the first place.


Years three and four followed (what we now recognize to have been) a predictable trajectory. Basically in an effort to try and secure more sponsorship, we ended up spreading ourselves thinly across the Illawarra performing in Caravan Parks, Pubs, Gerringong. Nothing wrong with that really, just that our audience were spread far continued to elude us.

It was crunch time. Tamara and Dave decided to give it a crack their own way and that if that didn’t work, they would call it a day.


The festival could certainly be called a success. We had people from all over the world contacting us asking to be involved. But Tamara and Dave wanted it to be so much more. It was then that – with the benefit of 4 years of experience under their belts and some direction provided through running their own business – they decided to “bet it all on black”. The festival was never going to achieve the “festival vibe” without having a hub, or home if you like. The other problem that they had identified was that the time of year that the festival took place in was actually a huge problem It had been considered that the first weekends in January were perfect as that was the height of the tourism season in Kiama.


However, the people that came to Kiama did so from all corners of Australia, Nay the world and as such were almost impossible to market to. They also came here mostly to caravan parks where they stayed. Literally coming to the same plot that they and their families had been coming to for the last 30 years, parked up next to Bob and Jean who they have been parked up next to for the last 30 years and bringing with them all the supplies they could ever eat or drink so they never had to leave the site once in their 2 week holiday. Even if you could find the perfect way to market to them, there weren’t interested! We literally put on free shows in the caravan parks where all they had to do was get up from their sun loungers and waddle over to the hall and most of them didn’t even manage that! Not that there is anything wrong with a relaxing holiday, just that they weren’t our people!


The decision was taken to move the time of the festival to the last week in April and the location from, well all over Kiama, to The Harbour  or Black Beach as it is more commonly known. The focus of the festival was still all genres of the arts but with a definite focus on comedy and circus. It was acknowledged that while we ultimately wanted the festival to be a world renowned festival that attracted people from all over the world, we had to start at home. The previous time of January meant that any Kiama local with a brain had fled their town to go on their holiday and avoid the tourists that replaced them. So, we marketed to the locals. Community arts projects with long lead in times were implemented around the regions. Local groups were invited to play alongside International professionals. The infamous raft race enjoyed it’s first tentative year and the new look format – KISS 2.0 was born! There was a joyous moment just after the raft race where the harbour was full of a multi-generational audience, all laughing and participating in activities when Tamara and Dave’s busy paths crossed and they paused. “We’ve done it!” was all that was said and they went their separate busy ways. It was at that moment that they realized that the gamble had paid off and they have never looked back!


The following year was not only eagerly anticipated by the public but they were approached for the first time by a major unsolicited sponsor. In fact since that moment, they have been approached by more sponsors wanting to come onboard than they had begged and pleaded with in the first year! Council’s sponsorship and pride in the event continues to grow each year. They were the recipients of Destination NSW’s Regional Flagship funding specifically for marketing and the audience numbers just exploded. From their first year at the Black Beach site they went from 4000 people over two days to approx. 11,000 in 2019. 2019 saw Destination NSW’s funding again alongside Festivals Australia funding the AIR KISS Project (Artist In Residence) a legacy of local artist Paula Gowan. The Raft Race enjoyed 12 entrants and was a major draw card.


The lessons leaned were:

  • While we needed to attract people from all over Australia, we needed to be at a point were the local community “owned” the festival. After all, what we were actually selling the public wasn’t art, it was art in our unique community. Giving them a chance/platform to come out and create, play and show off their unique quirky artistic passions. That is what tourists see now when they come to KISS, a festival of Kiama not the Arts.

  • The festival was free and had to remain so, even in the face of pressure to make it self-sustaining. It is so important to give absolutely everyone -regardless of age, sex, race or demographic – the opportunity to experience this joyous coming together of likeminded people. People who would never necessarily consider a night out at the theatre or any other perceived elitist establishment, to experience world class comedy, circus and fun for free.

  • Everything for everyone. Every aspect of the festival (with the exception of the opening night cabaret) had to be multigenerational. It is so rare to attend an event that is genuinely so. More-often, there will be a “kids” show that Mummy and Daddy will sit through on their phones or something that Mummy and Daddy want to watch that the kids can have their Ipads for. It is so important that we have the space to sit and watch something as a family, sometimes of 4 generations, and laugh, together at the same thing. A shared experience that touches us all.

  • Give your community a safe and fun environment in which to create and play and they will own it and protect it like one of their own! The Raft Race and AIR KISS projects have seen all corners of our community come out of their shells, push themselves just a little bit out of their comfort zones and find themselves in a tribe of likeminded people. People who would never had hung out together before, different social castes, different backgrounds, beliefs and social circles all united by a shared passion in having fun!


KISS had to take a break for the covid years but came back in 2022, bigger and better than ever....

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The Kazador - Kiama’s very own mini Spiegeltent Season



A spiegeltent (Dutch for "mirror tent", from spiegel+tent) is a large travelling tent, constructed from wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass, intended as an entertainment venue. Originally built in Belgium during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.


Amongst its unique array of transportable venues and activations, Laughter House owns a  Spiegeltent. Back in 2014, Laughter House was approached to provide a venue in The Assembly Gardens for the Edinburgh Fringe. We weren't allowed to peg so we built a wooden structure called The Kazador. With its Miami Art Deco facade and a relatively small footprint of 13 metres diameter, it can hold 150 people and is exquisite to perform in. In 2018 we brought the tent to Australia where she now lives and is the home of the Kazador mini Spiegeltent season in November each year Kiama NSW.


We realised that living in a relatively small rural town in NSW, if you wanted to see a show of any real calibre, more often than not, you had to travel to a major city. We started to imagine what it would be like to bring some of those “calibre” shows to a small town like Kiama and how we might go about doing it.


After much procrastination and dithering, we decided that the only way that it was going to happen was if we did it ourselves.

So we did.


63 shows over 31 days later, The Kazador - Kiama’s very own mini Spiegeltent Season was born.


We brought in artists like Vince Sorrenti, Imogen Kelly, Peter Berner, Tommy Dean, Debra Conway, George Washingmachine and Garry Eck to perform alongside local artists like Nick Rheinberger, Frank Sultana, Vaudevillawarra, Joe Mungovan and The Church of the Cliteri. We ran Paint and Sip evenings, Clothes Swaps, Quizzes, Discussion panels, magic shows, gin tasting, bubble shows and we even had a ceilidh! We staged free music outside the tent for our Friday Wine Down events and donated the venue to local organisations who wanted to use it for free. It obviously helped that we owned the tent but other than that, we bank-rolled the whole thing and dedicated a couple of months of our lives to it.


The response was overwhelming.


What would normally mean a 2 hour drive to Sydney, parking fees, expensive show tickets, dinner, accommodation and maybe a babysitter, now meant that local lovers of live entertainment of all genres could wander out of their house at 6.30pm on a Tuesday evening, watch a world class show on their doorstep and be back at home by 10! More often than not, people would come to a show and then go out en masse into the town to enjoy the bars and restaurants on a quiet weekday night, boosting the local economy. People were so inspired by the event that they would wander down on the off chance that there would be something on and buy a ticket on the door. Over time, we have no doubt that the season will attract an audience that will come to Kiama for the weekend specifically to take in a couple of shows in a beautiful, unique setting and stay in local accommodation drinking and eating out locally.


The thing that we are really proud of though is the sense of community that it created. Bringing the show to the people meant that over a month the growing loyal audience felt complete ownership of the event. They proudly introduced their friends and family to this seemingly uniquely “Kiama” event. The Friday Night Wine Down events doubled in size each week until by the last one, we had to borrow chairs and tables to accommodate the burgeoning audience. The naturally beautiful setting certainly helped, the beautiful structure that is The Kazador tent also helped. The locally sourced cheese plates and locally brewed beer was certainly good too,  but the fact that the Kiama community adopted the concept so whole-heartedly made every day so much more special. Even the shows that weren’t sold out had such a warm and supportive feel to them. Every performer that played in the season walked away promising to return next year.


The strength of local support was so huge and even today, at least once a week, we are begged by someone to do it all again. 


So we are.

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Begonia Festival

For a couple of years prior to working with The Begonia Festival we had written to them suggesting our services as we thought that we would be a perfect compliment to their extraordinary festival (the longest running festival in Australia no less!) They had dutifully replied giving us an outline of their budget and we had spent a day or so tailoring a quote to their specific requirements. Days and weeks would pass and they would respond by saying that they couldn’t go with it this year but they were interested so please stay in touch…


We realized that our approach was getting us nowhere and rather than creating a relationship we were just going through the motions each year. Frustrating and time-wasting for them as well as us!


Then we came up with the idea of inviting them to come and see us. We were performing at the lovely Lost Lands Festival in Werribee with La Petite Grande and a selection of our finest. We couldn’t actually send the tent to them that year anyway as La Petite Grande was in Adelaide that year but thought that we should try and forge a relationship with them anyway. We couldn’t have been more on the money! They happened to catch Kiki performing in the tent (her natural habitat) and they loved her! They loved her so much that they pleaded with us to bring a tent to this year’s festival and booked us on the spot for the following year as well!


So we took The Alkazar with shows the first year and they/we were right, it was a huge success! The following year and the one after that we managed to take La Petite Grande and continued to grow our appeal. Last year we mixed it up and took Café de Rude, The Circus Drop Zone and our free-standing Aerial rig with shows and because we have a bit of a following at the festival, the shows just went off!


This year we are planning to expand on the same theme and create a little comedy circus village with food vendors and more seating than before.


Begonia Festival is a great festival that started in 1953! It holds the record in Australia for the longest running festival and prides itself on it’s programming. Laughter House was an obvious choice once we had formally met.


Why not come and see us in action because we are fairly certain that once you have seen us you will want to work with us.

The kazador is the mardi gras optus arena!

Sometime in Nov 2021, Laughter House was approached by event agency Emotive about providing a venue for The Sydney Mardi Gras Family Day in Victoria Park. They wanted a Spiegeltent but they didn’t want it to look like a Spiegeltent!


{For those that don’t know what a Spiegeltent is, they are wooden transportable dance halls that originated in Belgium in the late 19th and early 20th century. They are typically made from wood with a two-tiered canvas roof. They are circular, have a full wooden gently tiered floor with booth seating around the perimeter and chairs around a stage - usually in the centre. They are ornately decorated with lots of glass. They are very beautiful, heavy, very onerous to erect and  expensive!}


Amongst its unique array of transportable venues and activations, Laughter House has a  Spiegeltent. In 2014, Laughter House was approached to provide a venue in The Assembly Gardens for the Edinburgh Fringe. We couldn’t put any pegs into the ground which is how we would normally secure our venues so we built a wooden structure called The Kazador. With a Miami Art Deco facade and it’s relatively small footprint of 13 metres diameter, it can hold 150 people and is exquisite to perform in. We brought the tent to Australia in 2018 where she now lives and is the home of the Kazador mini Spiegeltent season in November each year Kiama NSW.


Emotive were thrilled that we had a venue that was suitable but they still didn’t want it to look like a Spiegeltent! After a bit more probing, we got them to do a mock up of what it was exactly that they wanted… and then set about creating it!


The results were striking to say the least. The entire tent was painted bright pink and we built an entirely new facade. Decorated with holographic decals and 100’s of metres of fluorescent pink, blue and white neon strip lighting, The “Optus Arena” as it had been renamed stood out even at an event like Mardi Gras Fair Day! The venue hosted a live OB from the ABC, several discussion panels, bands, stand ups and our favourite Doggywood - a doggy pageant!


Thank you Emotive and Optus for having the vision to see and create what they wanted and trusting Laughter House to deliver it.

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University of Wollongong, O week

Each February, the on and off ramp at the university campus turning on the Princes Highway in Wollongong gets so congested that they have to employ a full time traffic logistics team for a week to manage the build up of cars going to and from Wollongong University Campus site at the foot of Mount Ousley. O week is a massive affair with thousands of students coming to one of Australia’s largest University campuses. 


As well as a multitude of brightly coloured marquees, each advertising a myriad of competing clubs and societies, UOW Pulse offers free food, free activities and free entertainment.


Laughter House has been lucky enough to provide their entertainment for several years now and it has been great to have the opportunity to refine our offering over time. Entertainment for the 18 - 28 year old audience can be a tricky one to nail. Competing distractions around campus and a shorter attention span mean that the attention of your average O week attendee was harder to grab. Selecting the exact artist for this audience has been so important and offering activations as well as performance has meant that every Laughter House offering has been welcomed back year after year. 


From programming short, sharp shows on our Little Big Stage to presenting interactive, comedy roving shows, one of the most successful activations has been The Circus Drop Zone with the Have a Go Trapeze. There is something wonderful about the nervous tingle that you get when you manage to talk yourself into trying something for the first time that scares you a little bit. Getting up and onto a trapeze bar, then slowly and safely learning increasingly daring moves under the watchful eye of a professional trainer can turn the most timid of participants into a beaming, proud star. O week is all about being introduced to new and exciting things so I guess it is no wonder that this activation is always so popular. We have even considered starting a circus society at the University based on its popularity each year! 

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Falls Festival

The Falls Festival Byron Bay contacted Laughter House Entertainment in 2013 as they wanted to create a Performance/circus precinct within the existing festival. The demographic was very specific – 18+ – which realistically means 18 – 30 years old and of the three Falls festivals, Byron Bay was the youngest demographic with more of a focus on music.


The first year saw La Petite Grande make the journey north with a small selection of artists chosen by us and a program of acts chosen by the festival.


We quickly discovered that the short show format (20mins) was what the audience responded to and that light and funny was what worked over dark and meaningful.


Year two saw us return with a fully Laughter House curated program of short, sharp, silly and sexy shows.


As our success grew, so did our offering. Year three saw La Petite Grande with a fully curated program, The Alkazar with an additional fully curated program and Café de Rude with a partially Laughter House curated program and some Falls Festival music acts alongside Karaoke, quizzes, films and bingo! We had gone from taking 4 people and a tent to taking 25 people (a mixture of artists, labourers, kitchen staff and musicians) and three venues.


Year four saw the creation of The Peep’O’Rama. After growing tired of being asked the same question over and over again – “does it have tits in it?” and watching the attention span of the average 20 year old dwindle, we decided to create a 5 min show with tits in it! Parodying the Peep Show format we created a venue that housed a live show on one side – viewed through eye sized peep holes – and a rolling comedy porn film on the other side. The shows were short, sharp, silly and … well kind of sexy I guess… definitely with an emphasis on the silly. The French Maids would perform acro balance in, well French Maids outfits! Ficky Stingers would delight and disgust with his sticky fingers and Granny Peep who ran the show would thrill her audiences with flashes of ankles and low cut neck lines! It was the perfect offering for our audience and the fervor with which they lapped it up surprised even us!


Year five saw all of the above plus roving artists performing small shows around the festival site, full scale street shows, fire shows and circus workshops throughout the day for the more adventurous punter. An ensemble totaling almost 30 with three venues and a whole heap of other really cool stuff too!


Tailoring our offering to meet your audiences needs is our speciality. In fact I would go further and say that we relish the challenge. From multi-generational to strictly adults only, we haven’t met a brief yet that we haven’t been able to meet!

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La petite grande

Being a performer at an outdoor festival can be a wonderful experience for the performer as well as the audience. There is something intangible about live performance when it is done well and its ability to transport people to another place is something magical. For that to happen however, a series of variables that are completely out of the performers control also need to line up. There were occasions where I  would turn up to perform and realise that it didn’t matter how good I was, I was never going to succeed because the audience was too far away or the stage I was on was 2 metres high. More often than not all the artists were sharing a stage and it didn’t always suit everyone.


So, in an effort to delete the variables that were standing between us and a consistently excellent experience for the audience, we created La Petite Grande. La Petite Grande is a mini transportable venue that we take to various festivals and events around Australia and it is a completely controlled environment. It is a 9 metre diameter canvas tent with an Art Deco inspired wooden facade. It has a 4 tiered custom built seating system that wraps partly around a wooden stage and ornate proscenium. Stepping up the red carpeted steps and inside the venue, you are transported into an opulent, distinguished space with a sense of theatrical importance. The stage is the right size, the seating is the perfect distance from the performance space, the lights and sound are always the same and it has become by far our most enjoyable space to perform in. 


The best bit however, we only discovered once we started to tour with it. We had unwittingly created the perfect way of introducing every type of person in Australia to the world of performance. People who had never considered going to the theatre because it was too expensive, too far away or just not their kind of thing. Several generations of the same family sitting and enjoying the same show together - laughing together at the same thing. By taking the venue to them and offering it to them for free, we were able to prove beyond any doubt the impact and power that live performance can have on any audience. Even the grumpiest of potential punters would bound out of the venue and immediately join the queue for the next show fully converted. Now, we relish going to the gigs that before we would have been concerned that we were not the right kind of thing for that audience!


Our “tents with shows” offering has been honed to just about as good as it gets. A different 20 minute show every 45 mins throughout the day with a near constant banter from the spruiker at the front of the tent. Every per former that we work with looks forward to performing in La Petite Grande. We can seat 100 people per show (we can usually squeeze a few more in but don’t tell anybody!) and the best bit is we can go back to the same festival year upon year but with a different line-up. The audience know and trust the venue - they know the experience that they are in for - and bring along their friends to share in the same joy that they have already experienced. The festival producer knows that their entertainment for the festival is all done by us - we do all of the boring admin, risk assessments and public liability bits - and they get to sit back and bask in the success.

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Shellharbour Carols

I don’t know about you but I have very vivid memories of being packed off to the carols concert each year. We would rock up early so we would get a good park… not be able to find a park and have to walk a couple of kms with chairs, eskys, blankets and umbrellas. We would then spend 20 minutes trying to find the group of friends that we had loosely arranged to meet. As soon as the adults had found a spot, the blanket would go out, we would eat as much food as we could cram into our mouths in as short a time as possible and then disappear until the end of the concert when our parents would eventually find us up a tree or somewhere and we would start the long walk back to the car. I have zero memory of ever watching any carol singers or even acknowledging what was happening on stage, it was all about playing with your friends, climbing trees, eating lollies and drinking fanta!


So when we were approached by Shellharbour Council to produce their Carols concert, we knew that we had to do it differently. To be fair, that is why Shellharbour Council had asked us. They knew our work and thought that we might be able to “modernise” their carols without alienating everybody who loved them just the way they were. They also wanted to move away from the traditional fireworks display at the end of the night and were open to any suggestion that we might come up with.


Circus and Christmas go together like turkey and cranberry sauce but the most important thing for us was that everybody engaged with what was happening on or around the stage, not just the adults. In the end, we transformed the site into what we would describe as a circus playground. We had roving acrobatic elves, juggling reindeers and christmas fairies on 2 metre high unicycles weaving their way around the crowd making sure that everybody felt like they were in the front row. For the more adventurous children (the tree climbers) we had “have a go trapeze” and circus activities for everyone to try. There was a House of Letters for last minute requests to Santa, roving carollers and helpful elves to show you where to go. The stage show was masterfully MC’ed by local comedian, ABC Radio Presenter and musician Nick Rheinberger who wrote songs specifically for the event. The carols were sung by local professionals and community groups to a live band and were interwoven around a narrative throughout the show that saw Mr & Mrs Claus perform an acrobatic adagio routine as well as greeting all the children. The show climaxed with a stunning LED dance routine to close the show.


Feedback was universally positive - many saying that it was the best carols concert yet - and Shellharbour Council were able to transition from the more traditional style concert to something that 100% engaged the entire audience throughout.


Oh, and no children were found up trees at the end of the night!

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