You won’t be short on laughs during your stay in London, with the capital having spawned some of the best comedians in the country today, including David Baddiel, Jimmy Carr, Kathy Burke, Paul Whitehouse and ‘King of Cockney’ Mickey Flanagan. And that’s no surprise when you consider that visitors to London are spoilt for choice when it comes to comedy clubs. We pick our Top 10 favourites…
Downstairs At The Kings Head
This place is a constant in the city’s top comedy venues. It’s also one of the oldest Comedy Clubs in Britain. It was founded in 1981 by Peter Grahame and Huw Thomas, and presents shows throughout the week that champion the ‘Best of the New’, be it comedy, music, spoken word, magic and dance. It boasts a capacity of 100 persons, a great live PA system, fully stocked bar, air conditioning and comfortable seating on stools and benches around tables. Tickets for most performances can be bought via wegottickets.com, and are priced between £3 and £15, depending on the performance.
The Comedy Store
Probably the best known of the London’s comedy clubs, The Comedy Store was born in the boom years of ‘alternative’ comedy and helped launched the careers of now household names such as French & Saunders, the late Rick Mayall and Paul Merton. Based in the heart of London’s West End, it offers everything from topical news-based comedy from The Cutting Edge (Tuesdays) team to the very best in Comedy Improv from The Comedy Store Players (Wednesdays & Sundays). Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening The Comedy Store features The Best in Stand Up, classic stand up comedy featuring some of the finest comic talent from around the globe. The last Monday of every month sees the return of open mic talent search ‘king Gong.
The (strangely named) Pineapple Pub in Kentish Town has become a regular haunt for London’s comedy fans. The pub’s upstairs function room hosts a comedy night every Sunday evening and has played host to the likes of Josh Widdicombe, Tom Rosenthal and Matt Rees.
Situated on Camden High Street, this plays host to the Camden Comedy Club. It is held upstairs at the pub six nights a week, with open mic on Sundays. The venue has steadily built a name for itself over the past few years, showcasing hundreds of comedians from the alternative scene through to TV headliners. The range of shows on offer boasts stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, improv comedy, open mic and (occasionally weird) themed nights.
Heroes Grotto of Comedy
A fairly new comedy pop-up venue, this is being held at Throgmorton’s in the City of London, EC2N. It’s been launched by Bob Slayer – who runs several popular venues at the Edinburgh Fringe – and will play host to shows featuring Stewart Lee, Josie Long, John Kearns and more.
Shoot From The Hip
This comedy night is run on Mondays at the Camden Head and on Tuesdays at the Top Secret Comedy Club, Drury Lane. Shoot From The Hip! are one of London’s premiere improvisational comedy troupes. The team includes Luke Manning, Paul Raymond, Thomas Mayo, Sam Russell, and Joshua Mills. The show is completely unscripted and is billed as comprising short scenes and games, blending witty one-liners and hilarious character comedy with off-the-cuff storytelling.
This is a free comedy night, which takes place at the Camden Head (not the other one) in Islington. The club is keen to support upcoming and established comedians and doesn’t charge for visitors – although donations are welcome to support the comedians on their career paths. The club is run by comedians – headed up by Barry Ferns and Sarah Pearce, but supported by many more.
The Comedy Café Theatre in Shoreditch promises ‘the biggest names in comedy in the coolest venue in East London’. It occupies an intimate loft space in the heart of Shoreditch with a bar and restaurant downstairs hosting live music five nights a week. Time Out had this to say about it: “As well as good, solid weekend multi-bill nights, the venue hosts some top notch solo shows, including exclusive performances from big-name US talent.”
The Funny Side Of…
The Funny Side launched its first club, The Funny Side…of Covent Garden, back in 2006. Originally running just once a week, within the space of a year it had won ‘Best Comedy Venue (London Small)’ in The Chortle Awards and, due to its rapidly increasing popularity, now offer comedy nights in Covent Garden, Soho, The City, Hammersmith, Shoreditch and Earlsfield.
Rise of the Idiots
How could you not be interested in a comedy night with a name like that (it’s a reference to the brilliantly dark TV comedy Nathan Barley, btw)? Based at The Exhibit Clube in Balham, the Rise of the Idiots Comedy Club runs monthly nights (last Sunday of each month) showcasing the very best new stand-up comedy talent alongside some big-name headliners. The likes of Dara O’Briain, Mike Wilmot, Phil Nichol, Rob Deering and current Edinburgh favourite Doc Brown have all performed at this up-and-coming south London venue.
After an evening of fun and laughter, unwind at the Amba Charing Cross Hotel.