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Heard the one about eh Irish comedy festival -- 5,000 feet up a mountain?

IT'S probably the last place on earth you'd expect to come across an Irish comedy festival. And at 5,000ft above sea level the Altitude Festival in the French Alpine ski resort of Meribel is certainly the highest.

The brainchild of Dublin comedian Andrew Maxwell, the week-long feast of fun continues until this Sunday.

The Irish Night this week had Maxwell as compere and at his best at stand-up in front of an audience of 600.

Those who think he's hilarious on RTE's The Panel should bring along some spare handkerchiefs for his live gigs -- he had the audience in stitches, not least with his story about St Patrick's Day in New York this year and how he got arrested.

His story of the killer whale which killed a trainer in Florida -- after similar incidents involving the same whale in Canada and California was classic Maxwell.

"You can't move a serial killer whale from place to place hoping that the problem goes away ... like Catholic priests" was just one line which had the audience in stitches.

Mammals were the subject of Colin Murphy's tales from visits to Belfast Zoo.

The animals there, he explained, have all been collected at sales from other zoos which have closed down.

The result is a collection which might be worth seeing, if they weren't all nocturnal. "This place is bedlam at night," a zookeeper tells him.

Ian Coppinger was superb with his routine too, but it was comic hip-hop group Abandoman who stole the show with a great routine.

Dubliner Rob Broderick and guitarist James Hancox deliver quickfire lyrics based on audience suggestions.

You never quite know what to expect, but their show was a revelation and a first in live comedy.

No wonder Maxwell said of them: "Abandoman are awesome; the next big thing in Irish comedy."