The top ten comedy shows this month
Our critic's pick of May's must-see comedy shows in London
There's an overwhelming number of comedy shows to choose from in London. Our advice? Buy tickets to any of the ten shows we recommend and you'll have a cracking time.
The best comedy shows in London this May
The self-hating cult US comic makes his London debut
We could attempt to come up with a pithy description of Eddie Pepitone's act, but someone's already done it: he goes by the nickname 'The Bitter Buddha'. The Brooklyn-born comic is the antithesis of slick, sharp-suited stand-ups: he's dark, angry and depressed, and bitterly funny. Pepitone switches between bursts of philosophical outrage to moments of calm, introverted self-loathing. He brilliantly ridicules the notion of stand-ups performing scripted, rehearsed material as if off-the-cuff with a disjointed structure. It's a thrilling mix of comedy and anti-comedy. Just don't try heckling him: he has far better put-downs for himself than you could ever come up with.
The consummate comic's superb podcast is back
We’ve become obsessed with Herring’s latest free download, and it’s even funnier as a live show. In RHLSTP, Herring sits down with superstar names (previous guests include Armando Iannucci, Stewart Lee and Graham Linehan) – but Parky this isn’t. Herring’s interviews include questions like ‘Have you ever tried to suck your own cock?’ or ‘Have you ever seen a Bigfoot?’ Plus, the show’s also forced a wonderful new phrase into our vocabulary: ‘Put a shrek in it!’. Chris Addison is lined-up as Herring's first guest for this series. Keep an eye on our Twitter for more announcements.
Three big-name Canadian comics, all in one show
Now, this is value for money. It was 15 years ago that Canadian comics Stewart Francis, Craig Campbell and Glenn Wool made their Edinburgh Fringe debuts. Now, after tons of TV appearances and high-profile tours, they're back together as The Lumberjacks. Each of them can fill theatres with solo shows, but here you can see all three of them on the same bill. And it will be brilliant!
An intimate run from the erudite campaigning comic
He's been away for a little while, but Rob Newman's back on stage to show us that he has more strings to his comedic bow than are attached to a World Bank loan. He is one amazing comedian, and in his intelligent new show he explores the 150-year controversy in evolutionary theory. From what we've seen at work-in-progress gigs it's set to be an engaging, intelligent and very funny hour, and the fact he's performing at the intimate Little Angel Theatre will make it all the more special. In fact, this is the first time the venue has hosted a show that doesn't feature a puppet.
The biggest ever world comedy tour hits London
The legendary Mr Izzard is back on the road for an arena tour. This time, though, he's not just taking in the beautiful British Isles, but is playing as many countries across the globe as possible – making Force Majeure the most extensive comedy tour ever – taking in cities across Europe, USA, Africa, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, India, Nepal and the Far East. The show itself has universal appeal, with material focusing on human sacrifice, Greek gods, languages and more.
The master of deadpan, downbeat stand-up is back
Another comedy heavyweight plays our city the same weekend as Izzard, at the slightly more intimate Hammersmith Apollo. Everyone's favourite grumpster, Jack Dee, has been off stage for six years, but he's back now with a full-blown UK tour. He'll be up to his usual shtick of being brilliantly moany about the smallest of annoyances. Get ready for some misanthropic comedy gems.
The Bafta-nominated vent act starts a three-week run
Outstanding ventriloquist Nina Conti has long been a circuit favourite, but her excellent (and now Bafta-nominated) BBC Four documentary has introduced her to a whole new audience. Conti's puppetry is so convincing you almost forget she's controlling the monkey, until you remember she's got her hand up its arse. In her new show she introduces new characters including her daughter, handyman, gran, oldest friend and a stray dog, with plenty of veering from the script.
Bonkers, Gervais-endorsed character comedy
Brian Gittins, the brilliantly oddball character creation of David Earl, has been working on this new solo show for quite some time, and from what we've seen at clubs it's going to be gloriously silly. Gittins has appeared in Gervais's 'Derek' and his own Channel 4 pilot 'Gittins'. Roadside cafe owner, taxi driver… Gittins has had all manner of jobs as well as six years amusing and bemusing comedy club audiences. He's a delightfully downbeat character.
An all-star line-up at this charity gig
May is chockablock with benefit gigs, most of them featuring superb line-ups. But the best of the bunch is this stunning bill in aid of NAPAC: the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. The mighty Stewart Lee tops the bill, with support from the politically charged Mark Thomas, understated Bristolian Mark Watson, delightful songstress Isy Suttie, sharp Irishman Keith Farnan, deadpan musical duo Ginger & Black and charming host Tiernan Douieb. Wowsers!
Part-comedy, part-party, all brilliant fun
Alex Horne's jazz-accompanied comedy-party comes to the beautiful surroundings of the London Wonderground's spiegeltent for a summer residency. It's heaps of fun, trust us, with games and nonsense from Horne and his hugely talented band, plus special guest comics accompanied by live music. Previous guests have included Tim Minchin, Harry Hill, Jimmy Carr, Neil Hannon and plenty more.
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