Mirth-in-progress: Edinburgh previews in London

Get one jump ahead of the Fringe, without leaving town



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As comics frantically pull together their Edinburgh Fringe shows, we highlight where to see them test their jokes in London throughout July.

Plus click here to see a full list of Edinburgh Fringe previews.

Pick and choose

© Antony Crook

During July, London secretly becomes a mini Edinburgh Fringe. Dozens of pubs, theatres, comedy clubs, living rooms, boats – you name it – play host to hundreds of comics putting the finishing touches to their latest solo offerings. As each show lasts less than an hour, it’s not difficult to squeeze in a quick laugh between work and boozing.

Islington’s Pleasance Theatre is offering previews almost every night till July 27, with Alex Horne and Cardinal Burns among those Fringe-bound. In grimy NW1 the Camden Head has a constant stream of gigs with ultra-cheap (or even free) work-in-progress shows from triple Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Josie Long and tons more.

In the West End, the Leicester Square Theatre and newly opened Museum of Comedy hosts shows most nights. And south of the river, at Battersea Arts Centre, Fringe veteran Simon Munnery, among others, workshop material, July 21-29.

Double up

But, hey, why see one Edinburgh preview when you can catch two? Because you’ve got other things to do too? Well, for those of you who don’t, Laugh Out London are offering cracking double-bills – Henning Wehn and Lloyd Langford, Liam Williams and Richard Herring – on various dates at five quid max.

The Invisible Dot’s BBQ Previews offer freshly chargrilled burgers between two work-in-progress shows from Tim Key, Tony Law and more on sporadic dates.

Kilburn’s Good Ship, Blackheath’s Crown Comedy Club and Crouch End’s Downstairs at the King’s Head are hosting double-headers throughout July too, for you locals.

Go free

© Steve Ullathorne

Most preview gigs are bank-balance friendly. But if you’re truly strapped for cash there are plenty of free options. The Schadenfreude Cabaret (every Thursday, Friday and Saturday till July 26) has mightily impressive zero-entry-fee double-bills from the likes of skilled stand-up Nish Kumar, hotly tipped newcomer Pierre Novellie and oddball sketch trio The Grandees.

Cartoonist-comedian Bec Hill and surreal character comic Beth Vyse take to the stage at Tufnell Park’s Aces & Eights. And regular top-quality free gig Angel Comedy isn’t upping its entry fee for its Tuesday night work-in-progress gigs.

Fringe binge

© Rob Greig

But in order to undergo a truly Fringe-like experience you need to pack in as many shows as possible, darting from one to another while your back gets sweatier and sweatier. You can experience all this at ARGComFest (July 5 and 6), which crams in 28 previews – including shows from award-winners Adam Riches, John Kearns and Lucy Beaumont – into an intense two-day mini-fest.

If you prefer things a little lighter, Chortle’s Fast Fringe (July 6) squeezes Dan Clark, Rhys James, Rachel Parris and 25 other acts into one night, each performing three-minute slices of their shows. And #PreEdinburgh (July 2 and 3 – yes, the title is already a hashtag) features two nights of mini-previews from lots of ace comics.

Now, all you need is a broken umbrella and a damaged liver, and you’ll truly be living the Ed Fringe dream.

See more Edinburgh Fringe previews in London

Hungry for more work-in-progress shows? There are hundreds of Edinburgh Fringe previews taking place in London over June and July, and you can catch the likes of Russell Kane, John Kearns, Henning Wehn, Cardinal Burns and tons more, for just a few quid. Check out the full list and take your pick.

See all Edinburgh Fringe previews in London

Users say


These all look fantastic and it is an exciting time of year, as seemingly everyone in the world of comedy prepares almost feverishly to invade Scotland in August. The common thing here is that you'll see two (possibly unfinished) hour long shows a night, as comedians get themselves together for the big push. Watch as much as you can I say! Now, I am slightly biased here, as a performer and curator of a lovely wee club called 'We Love Comedy'. Are we doing Edinburgh previews this year? Why yes, LOT's of them! But after a lot of research (OK, mainly sharing a couple of beers and a chat with some comedians and our audiences), we decided to try something a little different. You see, sometimes two previews a night is a great thing, but sometimes it can be a bit of a long winded thing to sit through, as notes are shuffled through and shows are workshopped. So, what we decided to do is have three Edinburgh previews a night at our club! 'THREE?!' you say? How is that going to work? Well, instead of hour long shows, we're having three slots of between 30 and 45 minutes – more than long enough to test drive a lot of a show and more value for audiences (as well as potentially less numbness in the posterior!). Coming up we have Terry Alderton, Ed Aczel, Tony Law, Sara Pascoe (tonight actually), Bridget Christie and, well, you'll have to just search for 'We Love Comedy' to find all the details. Hope to see you at one soon and do let us know what you think.