‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ provided a cool, sophisticated platform for improv in the '90s, but ever since then it has largely been seen as unfashionable and unpopular.
But times are a-changin'. Alongside the long-established Comedy Store Players, there are now plenty of supremely talented improv groups performing on the London circuit (our current favourites are Jane Austen-themed troupe, Austentatious).
So, why not broaden your comedy horizon with an off-the-cuff, improvised show? To help you get started, the list below shows the next ten improv comedy gigs in London.
Upcoming improv comedy shows in London
I’ve always thought of improv as a thing Americans are into in lieu of actual comedy. But the heartwarming success story that is Adam Meggido and Dylan Emery’s ‘Showstopper! The Improvised Musical’ is as British as an argument over how to pronounce the word ‘scone’.Partly that’s to do with show’s current framing device, whereby the avuncular Emery very reservedly takes audience suggestions on what sort of musical his crack troops are going to whip up that evening (politely batting away the less, er, family-friendly ideas). But I think the greatest thing about ‘Showstopper!’ –which arrives at the West End after eight years of cult success – is that at heart it’s a bit crap… and that’s the fun of it. At the performance I attended, the phenomenally skilled performers on stage knocked up a musical about Northern Irish fairies (‘Puck Off!’). In many ways, it was atrocious, incoherent nonsense. But that’s what’s so funny, really, watching them muddle through the ludicrous task set for them, occasionally absolutely flooring you with a song pastiche so perfect it’s no wonder the programme has a section devoted to conspiracy theories about it all being a set-up. The cast gamely knocked out a ‘Stomp’ style number (which they’d be well within their rights to have refused, ‘Stomp’ not even being a musical), a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song and a very funny ‘Les Mis’ parody and it all feels gloriously precarious and fresh.At two hours long, it does have a tendency to bog down in plot cuRead more
The most famous comedy improv outfit in town perform off-the-cuff games and tomfoolery at the world famous Comedy Store twice a week. Regular Players include Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Neil Mullarkey, Andy Smart, Richard Vranch and Lee Simpson, but the line-ups change for each show. See 'dates and times' for the latest bills. Check out our guide to the Comedy Store.Read more
Sharp Canadian stand-up John Hastings records his improvised podcast, live. In 'Anything Can Be a Podcast Podcast', the focus is on the 'anything' – Hastings goes down whichever paths reveal themselves, mixing made-up-on-the-spot audience chat with meandering stories.Read more
Improv gets a bad rap in this country, but anyone who dismisses the genre clearly hasn't seen Austentatious. This highly impressive troupe perform a completely improvised Jane Austen novel, complete with period dress and cello accompaniment, with marvellous results. Made up of Andrew Murray, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Joseph Morpurgo, Cariad Lloyd, Graham Dickson and Rachel Parris, they're all hugely talented performers, able to keep the gag rate high and the made-up story rolicking along. Tremendous fun.Read more
This gig created by Eric Lampaert (who appears alongside regulars Will Seaward and Matthew Highton) features a cast of comics recreating famous movies. Don't expect their versions to be entirely faithful, though – the CCC's movies are chaotic, alcohol-fuelled and very funny indeed. Check 'dates and times' for the latest list of movies.Read more
Summer festival favourite beatboxer/comic Beardyman creates a brand new, totally unique improvised album every single time in 'One Album Per Hour'. The 33-year-old musician-comedian – real name Darren Foreman – takes suggestions for song titles and genres from the audiences and then creates those tracks, live.Read more