HEARD the one about the Glasgow subway station, the city tattoo parlour and the hallowed halls of Ibrox Public Library?

All joking aside, they're just three of the 46 venues hosting shows during Europe's biggest laughter fest.

The 11th annual Glasgow International Comedy Festival, which launches today, features 411 shows over 18 days in March.

It brings together internationally-renowned acts such as Jimmy Carr, Harry Hill, Sean Lock, Paul Merton, Al Murray, Lucy Porter, Phill Jupitus and Chris Addison with homegrown headliners, including Jerry Sadowitz, Dorothy Paul, Des McLean, Janey Godley, Raymond Mearns, Susan Calman and Daniel Sloss.

The programme also features a major fundraiser for The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice, at the King's Theatre on March 18.

Karen Dunbar, Fred MacAulay, Des Clarke and Michelle McManus are guests of honour at the event to raise funds for the Brick by Brick appeal.

The Evening Times is backing the £15million campaign to create a new hospice for Glasgow on a site by Bellahouston Park.

In total, more than 100,000 tickets are available for the festival, which remains Europe's biggest such event dedicated solely to comedy.

Festival organiser Tommy Sheppard said: "This year a large-scale campaign takes place to raise awareness of the festival in London and other areas, and Glasgow is set to welcome visitors in search of a laugh from all over the world.

"We have also gone out of our way in these bleak economic times to keep prices down."

Programme highlights include a show by former ad salesman Sanderson Jones, who is riding on a crest of a wave after selling out Sydney Opera House last year.

Tickets for his Comedy Sale show, at Blackfriars in the Merchant City, may be bought only from the man himself - and much of his show stems from internet research on audience members.

Elsewhere, Kilmarnock comedian Billy Kirkwood is set to host a mix of improv and chat in a city tattoo parlour, in Show Me Your Tattoo.

Patter merchants will experience underground comedy with a difference as they follow funnyman Bruce Devlin into the bowels of the Glasgow Subway as he hosts Shoogle Your Funny Bone, in St Enoch station.

STV regular Julia Sutherland will talk about her journey from being obese to a size 10 in Fat Chance, at Ibrox Library, while Made In Scotland: The Only Way is Glasgow debuts at The S.P.A.C.E., in the Argyll Arcade.

Political comedian Mark Thomas will take to the stage at Oran Mor for two shows on March 19.

In addition to the big-name attractions, the programme features a number of emerging TV talents.

Josh Widdicombe, who was Adam Hill's sidekick on Channel 4's paralympic coverage The Last Leg, will appear at the Stand Comedy Club, and Iranian-Irish comic Patrick Monahan, who won ITV's Show Me The Funny, brings his Shooting From The Lip show to the same venue.

Alongside traditional stand-up, this year also features comic theatre, cinema, workshops, art and children's events.

And the line between comedy and magic is blurred by Pete Firman's show, Hoodwinker, at the Tron Theatre and Michael Neto's showcase, Upclose, at The S.P.A.C.E.

The effect of Scottish independence on the comedy scene will be debated at a discussion hosted by political journalist Iain MacWhirter, who will be joined by panel members Susan Calman, Liz Lochhead and Bruce Morton.

ThreeUS stand-up stars of the future – Liza Treyger, Dwayne Kennedy and Kyle Kinane – are showcased at United Airlines present: America Stands Up, hosted by Scott Capurro.

The Grosvenor Cafe in Ashton Lane, meanwhile, will host a series of free evening gigs featuring three comedians each night.

The Stand Comedy Club, in Woodlands Road, will once again become the festival hub, playing host to a 'best of the fest' every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.

In the past, Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges and Johnny Vegas have made impromptu appearances at the club.

The festival, which is funded by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and Event Scotland, will run from March 14 until 31.

Paul Bush, head of EventScotland, said: "Visitors to Glasgow will undoubtedly experience a warm welcome."

Tickets can be booked on 0844 395 4005 or visit www.glasgowcomedy festival.com

l PAUL MERTON'S IMPRO CHUMS, King's Theatre, March 15

l DOROTHY PAUL: By Popular Demand!, King's Theatre, March 17

l HARRY HILL: Sausage Time, King's Theatre, March 22-23

l CRAIG HILL: Jock's Trap, Oran Mor, March 22-23

l JIMMY CARR: Gagging Order, Clyde Auditorium, March 22-23

l JERRY SADOWITZ: Comedian, Magician, King's Theatre, March 23

l LUCY PORTER: People Person, The Stand, March 26

l CHRIS ADDISON: The Time is Now, Again, Citizens Theatre, March 27

l JANEY GODLEY: Godley Ungagged, Oran Mor, March 29-30

l FRED MACAULAY: The First 25 Years, Citizens Theatre, March 30