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Blowouts or bargains: 2014 comedy shows in London

Arena-sized comedy extravaganzas are coming to town. We highlight this year’s biggest gigs and their budget counterparts

Bitchy wit

Blowout: Joan Rivers (£30-£39.50)

At 80 years old (she doesn’t look it – maybe she’s had some work done?), the grand dameof stand-up is showing no signs of losing her acidic wit. Joan Rivers has been dishing out bitchy comments about celebs and pop culture before Perez Hilton was a glint in his father’s eye. But Rivers is the butt of her own jokes too – just look at the title of her new tour: ‘Before They Close the Lid’.

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Wed Oct 15 - Thu Oct 16

Bargain: David Mills (£10)

The 43-year-old David Mills is half the age of Rivers but, like her, he can crack the whip. The camp, sharply dressed American (now based in Bethnal Green) can tear apart any topic, TV star or whole subset of humanity he sets his sights on. He also manages to be wickedly inappropriate while retaining a laidback class. And, as far as we know, his looks are all natural… so far.

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Mon Mar 3 - Tue Mar 4

Laddish laughs

Blowout: Russell Howard (£27-£30)

‘Russell Howard’s Good News’ is almost constantly the most-watched programme on the BBC iPlayer. It ain’t half popular on telly, too, racking up nearly 4 million viewers per week. No surprise, then, that his new tour ‘Wonderbox’ is being hyped by teenage fangirls, their mums, and actual comedy fans. To see the Bristol boy’s sweary energy in the Albert Hall should be quite special.

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Thu Mar 27 / Sat Mar 29 / Mon Apr 14 - Thu Apr 17

Bargain: Carl Donnelly (£10-£12.50)

Tooting’s Carl Donnelly is from the same chatty, friendly, slightly childlike school of comics as Howard. Since appearing on ‘Good News’ as a guest stand-up (and being nominated for a Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2013), he’s becoming a headline-name in his own right. Who knows, his career could soon become another very good news story.

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Thu Mar 20 - Sat Mar 22

Physical fun

Blowout: Lee Evans (£30-£50)

Apparently, Evans pours out 2.3 litres of sweat per show and walks 11.8 miles on stage. No wonder the rubbery joker feels at home in an arena: his manic energy would cause a smaller venue to explode. With ‘Monsters’ he’ll play to hundreds of thousands of fans: unfortunately for him, not the blowy kind.

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Thu Sep 25 - Sat Oct 4 / Wed Nov 19 - Sat Nov 22

Bargain: Rhys Darby (£22.50)

Yep, Bret and Jemaine’s hapless manager on ‘Flight of the Conchords’ is back in his favourite non-NZ city. Darby’s a masterful physical comic, and in his new show he’ll be acting out every character (complete with vocal sound effects) in the stories of his adventures. There’ll be no band meetings, though. Sorry.

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Wed Jul 23 - Sat Jul 26

Old school magic

Blowout: Penn & Teller (£29.50-£75)

The razzle-dazzle of Vegas rarely appears in London (unless for ‘razzle’ you read ‘seediness’, which can always be found in Leicester Square). But illusionists Penn & Teller are here to change that. They’re two of the world’s finest magicians, performing astonishing tricks with water tanks, goldfish and nail guns. Ouch.

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Wed Jun 18 - Sun Jun 22

Bargain: Morgan & West (£10-£15)

Morgan & West upstaged Penn & Teller with a trick not even the US masters could work out on ITV show ‘Penn & Teller: Fool Us’. This pair of conjurers don Victorian get-up and adopt cut-glass accents to give a spiffingly British twist to their card tricks and tomfoolery. Splendid stuff!

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14 Jun 2014

Cool ventriloquism

Blowout: Jeff Dunham (£35-£40)

Listen up: throwing your voice is cool. Sort of. The Texas-born comic is certainly popular, and he’s ranked as the third highest-paid US comedian. His material’s not exactly cutting-edge, but judging by his bank balance, he’s no dummy.

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26 Apr 2014

Bargain: Nina Conti (£20)

Accompanied by her foulmouthed sidekicks, Conti is an expert performer, acting innocent when her ballsy characters get inappropriate. You almost forget she’s controlling the doll… Until you remember she’s got her hand up its arse.

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Mon Mar 17 - Fri Mar 21

Posh slapstick

Blowout: Miranda Hart (£27.50)

The O2 Arena has been hosting the planet’s starriest bands, comedians and Olly Murs since 2007, but did you know the megadome hasn’t yet put on a headlining female comic? Miranda Hart is set to change that when she fills the space with a solo show. Hart hasn’t performed live since her slapstick-heavy sitcom ‘Miranda’ rocketed her to household-name fame. Expect plenty of cheery, family-friendly fun, self-deprecating scoffs – and lots and lots of falling over.

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Mar 12 - 13, Apr 11 - 12 / Oct 10 - 11

Bargain: Lindsay Sharman (£4-£5)

Equally posh, equally klutzy, Lindsay Sharman mines plenty of Miranda-esque material from her well-to-do background, public-school upbringing and plummy accent. That’s if you catch her as herself. Sharman also performs in character as an earnest Scottish poet and a romantic fortune teller named ‘Madame Magenta’. As you do.

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Mon Mar 3

Sketch shenanigans

Blowout: Monty Python (£27.50-£150)

Monty Python are back! We didn’t think we’d ever be writing those words. Tickets for the extravagantly announced ‘one off’ reunion date sold out in a oddly specific 43.5 seconds. But nine more dates were quickly added, and (pricey) tickets are still available. With a combined age of 357, this globally influential comedy troupe could be taking their final bow and fucking off for good. The question is: how shall they fuck off, O Lord?

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Tue Jul 1 - Sun Jul 20

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