What better way to welcome the New Year than with a good old laugh? Many of London's top comedy clubs offer NYE packages including a stand-up show, meal and bar/dancing till the early hours. The shows can be pricey, but what isn't expensive on New Year's Eve? And to make sure you have a great night we've highlighted the gigs that are particularly worth the money. Why not start 2016 with a comedy bang?
RECOMMENDED: Read our full guide to New Year in London
Looking for Christmas comedy shows?
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.
Maybe it’s his law school training, but relative newcomer Ronny Chieng is already a consummate professional. The 27-year-old comic is blunt, full of bravado and not aiming to be liked; he’s got a job to do, and he’s putting forward a strong case. Born in Malaysia, based in Australia and raised in Singapore via the US, Chieng has a blurred sense of national identity. ‘I belong nowhere,’ he says, explaining that Westerners just see his Chinese roots, and back home he’s considered ‘the whitest guy in Malaysia’. But Chieng feels passionately about his heritage and aims to change the opinion that Chinese people aren’t cool. ‘Cool’ isn’t exactly how you’d describe Chieng; he’s a permanently pissed-off germaphobe. But he smartly attacks Chinese stereotypes while mockingly reinforcing them, and just when you think he’s slipping into cliché, he’ll flip the joke on its head and find a fresh, sharp punchline. Not that race is the only subject Chieng’s an expert on. He’s a master BitTorrent user, a penis-hygiene specialist and regular IT support for his mum. We’ve all heard young comics mock their parents’ inability to grasp technology, but Chieng’s extended routine about providing tech help over the phone wins through his outward frustration. It’s this honest indifference to being liked that makes Chieng stand out. Refreshingly, he’s neither charmless nor charming. All that matters is there’s sharp comedic mind at work here – why should we need anything more? See 'Ronny Chieng – The Ro
‘My main goal of the show, and my life, is to clear the name of Yoko Ono,’ says James Acaster, matter-of-factly, at the top of his show. Quite how we get there via examining his love of mariachi music, or the identities of Percy Pig’s mates, we’re not sure. But it all seems to make sense, at the time. Honest. Three solo shows in, and Acaster’s quickly becoming a reliable Fringe favourite. The Kettering-born comic is quiet, pedantic and refreshingly low-key. He's in no rush to get laughs, his shows are slow-burners, but every carefully chosen word or pause builds up to a sturdy, satisfying punchline. From Twister-etiquette to French rhyme structures, the Marks and Spencer-donning comic has a knack for flipping observational comedy on its head, studiously examining things most of us have dismissed as inconsequential. His confident, yet gawky, persona is wonderfully aloof, too. But what Acaster has mastered, which most comics fail at, is structuring an hour-long show. Seemingly throwaway jokes cleverly re-emerge, and no callbacks are crowbarred in. By the end of the hour you’re totally sucked into his minute, quizzical world, where Yoko Ono is addicted to biscuits, and Joe Bloggs is a prat. And it’s a wonderful world to visit. See 'James Acaster – Lawnmower' at the Edinburgh Fringe
With comedians charging top dollar to watch them from a mile away at the O2, we here at Time Out offer you a guide to the financially viable alternatives – London’s best free comedy gigs. In general, the quality at free clubs can be a little hit and miss, but we highly recommend these ten comedy nights, and there’s no doubting that these free things to do in London offer excellent value for money. A minor warning: although they say ‘free’, many clubs invite donations at the end of the night. Don’t fret if you can’t make a contribution, but if you’ve enjoyed the show, why not pay what you think it was worth?
The title of Katy Brand's show says it all: ‘I Was a Teenage Christian’. The comic, a fitful presence on the telly since the mid-2000s ('Katy Brand's Big Ass Show', 'Peep Show'), spills the beans on her teenage years as a fundamentalist Christian – an entirely self-imposed conversion. Thankfully for us, in the end, the charming Brand swapped the holy light for the spotlight and a career in comedy. Praise the lord!
Free from the censorship shackles of TV and radio, and the time restrictions of live club gigs, you can often find comedians at their most creative and riff-tastic on the internet, in comedy podcasts. There are hundreds of free downloads out there. Some have gained huge cult followings, others have more or less disappeared into the ether… Here, we're constantly adding to this list of what we think are the best comedy podcasts the internet has to offer. Keep checking back for more recommendations that are top of the pods.
Can you believe Al Murray has now spent 20 years as one of the finest comedy character creations in the country, the Pub Landlord? After battling Farage in South Thanet, Murray's headlng to the Royal Albert Hall with his new show, 'Let's Go Backwards Together'. The Pub Landlord's a national treasure, and one never short of an opinion of topical issues, so expect some gags on the Brexit fall-out. And remember, punters: please take your glasses back to the bar…
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.
This city has the biggest and best comedy scene in the world. But where to start? Here's Time Out's round-up of the top 20 comedy clubs and comedy nights in London that'll keep you laughing throughout the year. From the funniest local gigs, north and south, to Soho comedy nights and central hangouts, the capital has plenty of comedy to satisfy your laughter needs. RECOMMENDED: our complete guide to the best comedy in LondonThink we've missed a great comedy club or comedy night in London? Let us know in the comment box below.