Looking for Christmas comedy shows?
‘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
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
Formerly known as The Venue, Leicester Square Theatre gave the beery, dank space something of a facelift in 2008 and opened with a bill of comedy, cabaret and theatre that included Joan Rivers, burlesque star Polly Rae and an experimental take on Oscar Wilde's 'Dorian Gray'. Its diddy basement bar is one of the most intimate places to catch a comic or cabaret turn in town.
Grubby angel pub The Mucky Pup has had a facelift: after being taken over by Angel Comedy Club, its exterior is now covered in the gurning mugs of great comedians from Charlie Chaplin to Victoria Wood. The name suggests that its new owners might just be paying homage to the famously eccentric comedy star Bill Murray, too. But for legal reasons, the pub is officially named after William Murray, Charles I's whipping boy and 1st Earl of Dysart. The Bill Murray is a fully functioning pub, serving drinks and snacks seven days a week. Angel Comedy Club also use The Bill Murray (as well as the Camden Head up the road) to host their jam-packed programme of free comedy shows, visits from circuit comedians, workshops and improv.
Dubbed 'Comedy's Unofficial National Theatre', the Comedy Store is, without doubt, the daddy of all comedy clubs. During the 1980s the Comedy Store made its name as the home of 'alternative comedy': Alexei Sayle, Rik Mayall, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith Allen and Arnold Brown were among the radical young comics who cut their teeth here, with the likes of Clive Anderson, Chris Barrie, Paul Merton and Ben Elton hot on their heels. Things haven't changed dramatically: seven nights a week you can see some of the best comedy anywhere on the planet. Apart from the corking bills every Thursday to Saturday, check out the brilliant Comedy Store Players (Wed and Sun) and the fantastic Cutting Edge Team (Tue), while the Gong Show (which gives would-be stand-ups a mic for as long as the audience allow) on the last Monday of every month is simply not to be missed.
A comedy club featuring up-and-coming talent alongside a smattering of big names.
We love a bit of comedy about comedy, and Aussie favourite Zoe Coombs Marr is one of the best at it. She's previously performed as 'Dave' – an ace parody of lazy stand-up. But now she's wiped of the Sharpie beard and being herself again.
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