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 London
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What This bi-monthly comedy gig at the Backyard in Bethnal Green lives up to its title. The line-ups here are ridiculously good for the ticket price of just £5 (£3 concessions). Sketch troupe Gein’s Family Giftshop and one-man skit machine Goose curate the bills and perform themselves. Previously line-ups have included Daniel Kitson, Greg Davies and Joe Lycett. For a fiver, that’s just suspicious.
Where Backyard Comedy Club, 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 0EL.
Nearest tube Bethnal Green.
When Every every month, usually the last Sunday.
How much £5, £3 concs.
What Clue’s in the title here. Fortnightly club Shambles is chaotic and unpredictable – comics are testing new material, new ideas, even whole new personas. But the line-ups themselves are consistently excellent, and the cosy little basement room of the Aces & Eights is perfect for leftfield comedy larks. Running the night is Harry Deansway, who’s been knocking about the alt-circuit for about a decade, either as a stand-up, promoter, producer or journalist. He knows pretty much every exciting comedian out there, and they often pop along to Shambles to mess about in a safe setting.
Where Aces & Eights, 156-158 Fortess Rd, NW5 2HP.
Nearest tube Tufnell Park.
When Every first and third Thursday of the month.
How much £6.
What One of the oldest clubs in the country (it’s been running for more than 30 years), Peter Grahame’s basement gig in Crouch End is still absolutely brilliant. On Thursdays you can catch a large bunch of new acts (most of whom have waited months for a spot), Saturdays feature top notch circuit talent, and Sundays have more of a laidback variety feel. Plus, the staff are tremendously friendly and none of the shows will put much of a hole in your pocket.
Where 2 Crouch End Hill, N8 8AA.
Nearest tube Finsbury Park, then the W7 bus.
When Thursdays, Saturdays and Sunday, plus occasional other nights.
How much £5-£11.
What You might have been handed a flyer for this West End club while walking through Leicester Square. But unlike some other flyering comedy nights, this one isn’t a rip off. The 99 Club gang have been in the business for more than a decade, and their Leicester Square branch (at nightclub Storm) is their flagship venue. It offers top quality circuit line-ups five nights a week – recently the bills have been particularly impressive. Expect a hike in entry price around Christmas time, but generally the 99 Club’s remarkably good value, too. It gets a big Time Out stamp of approval.
Where Storm Nightclub, 28a Leicester Square, WC2H 7LE.
Nearest tube Leicester Square.
When Every Tuesday to Saturday.
How much Generally £8-£18.
What The room upstairs at the Camden Head recently went through a quick refurb and rebrand and emerged as the Camden Comedy Club, complete with a neon sign above the stage. The venue’s programme is nicely varied, with different promoters and comedians taking over the L-shaped space on different nights. On Saturdays its home to the confusingly titled Hampstead Comedy Club (it moved there from a venue in Hampstead – they’re not being deliberately abstruse) where veteran comedian/promoter Ivor Dembina hosts enjoyable line-ups. Other highlights include Sara Pascoe’s new material night Flashmob and Laugh Out London’s gloriously chaotic experimental gigs, which usually take place once a month. It’s wallet-friendly, too – you’ll rarely pay more than a tenner, and lots of gigs are free.
Where 100 Camden High St, London, NW1 0LU.
Nearest tube Camden Town.
When Most nights of the week.
How much Various prices. Most gigs cost a tenner or less.
What This purpose-built comedy club in Greenwich was originally set up by the late, great Malcolm Hardee in the ’90s, and it’s still one of the best rooms for live comedy in the capital. The atmosphere here is lively, to say the least. It’s less of a bearpit than it used to be, but Up the Creek’s crowd of locals still aren’t afraid to torment the comics – if a punter thinks of something funnier than what’s being said on stage, they will shout it out. But if it’s spectacular line-ups you’re after, try the weekly Sunday Special. It has a more relaxed vibe, the ticket price is cheap, and the bills often feature arena-filling names testing new material.
Where 302 Creek Rd, SE10 9SW.
Nearest tube Cutty Sark DLR.
When Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Plus other occasional one-offs.
How much £5-£14.
What The line-ups aboard this floating comedy club are consistently superb, with a mix of circuit pros, break-through TV stars and established up-and-comers. The Boat Show’s been known to attract celebrity special guests, too – Sarah Silverman even popped in recently. Ticket prices are very reasonable for a weekend club, and for those wishing to party into the small hours, a nightclub follows the comedy every Saturday at no extra charge.
Where Temporarily on board the HMS President, then back to its home, the Tattershall Castle, from mid-April 2015.
Nearest tube Currently Blackfriars, then Embankment once it’s moved back to the Tattershall.
How much £12-£16.
What The LST isn’t strictly a comedy venue, it hosts heaps of music and theatre too. But its basement space is home to enjoyable regular comedy nights and Edinburgh Fringe previews, and the 400-seat main house is a favourite room among the big names. Stewart Lee, Jerry Sadowitz and Doug Stanhope often play long runs in the main theatre, and Bill Bailey, Michael McIntyre and Micky Flanagan have all performed warm-up gigs here in recent years. Highlights from the studio space include laidback music-accompanied stand-up from the Rat Pack gang, and an ongoing residency from professional underachiever Lewis Schaffer.
Where 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX.
Nearest tube Leicester Square (unsurprisingly).
When Most nights of the week.
How much Oh, depends on the show. Various prices.
What This monthly Islington comedy club often provides the some of the most interesting line-ups in the capital. Taking over the gorgeous Union Chapel, the shows here are all killer, no filler, featuring comedy big guns (Simon Amstell, Noel Fielding and Stewart Lee for example) alongside supporting comics who are all headliners in their own right. Throw in a terrific live band, a tea-serving kiosk and a lot of swearing in a church, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a night out. Amen.
Where Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, N1 2UN.
Nearest tube Highbury & Islington.
When Usually the first Saturday of each month.
How much £20, £18 concs.
Always Be Comedy
What Promoter/compere/TV warm-up man James Gill has rapidly built up the Always Be Comedy empire (there are now three branches), and it’s pretty obvious why ABC’s pub gigs have been such a success: absolutely stonking line-ups. The club books some great names – every act could easily headline – and regulars include Nick Helm, Romesh Ranganathan and Katherine Ryan. Guaranteed laughs.
Where Kennington, Putney and Brixton. Kennington’s club is at The Tommyfield, 185 Kennington Lane, SE11 4EZ. Putney’s is at Putney Arts Theatre, Ravenna Rd, SW15 6AW. And Brixton’s takes place at the Prince of Wales, 467-469 Brixton Rd, SW9 8HH.
Nearest tubes Kennington, East Putney and Brixton.
When Kennington runs fortnightly, on Thursdays. Putney is also fortnightly, on Sundays. And Brixton runs every other month(ish).
How much £8-£10.
See listings for Kennington, Putney and Brixton
What This central London new material gig, hosted by Tiff Stevenson, has been running every Monday for, ooh, yonks. A noose hangs over the stage – if a comic’s freshly thought-up jokes are bombing, they can grab the rope and tell some tried-and-tested old stuff. As it runs each and every week, big name stand-ups are often dropping by – it’s a favourite of Rich Hall, Milton Jones and Robin Ince.
Where The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, W1G 0PP.
Nearest tube Oxford Circus.
When Every Monday.
How much £8, £6 adv.
What The Amersham Arms, decorated with an ever-changing mural, hides a 300-seat music venue out the back, which plays host to Happy Mondays comedy club every fortnight. Holly Walsh – Foster’s Best Newcomer nominee and panel show regular – is the resident host, introducing invariably top quality line-ups of comics. Plus it’s super cheap. Plus plus the pub does great burgers. Win win win.
Where Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Rd, SE14 6TY.
Nearest tube New Cross rail, really.
When Fortnightly Mondays.
How much £5-£6.
What For three decades this highly respected club has been providing weekend laughs for the good people of Balham. At Banana Cabaret’s cosy room inside the Bedford pub you can catch no-nonsense stand-up bills of circuit stalwarts, booked by promoter David Vickers. Comics love Vickers – he gave many of them a spot at his top level club in their early days – so they often pop back to SW12. Vickers and his Banana Cabaret team are also behind the superb Balham Comedy Festival, which takes over the Bedford pub for a week or so each July, and attracts starry names. Here’s to another 30 years, eh David?
Where The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HD.
Nearest tube Balham.
When Every Friday and Saturday.
How much £11-£16.
What Head to our ‘best free comedy clubs’ page and you’ll find Angel Comedy in the top spot. But it totally deserves to be on this list, too. Long queues form outside this often rammed club, which runs seven nights a week, and the promoters turn folk away every weekend. Entry’s free, but the line-ups aren’t full of amateurs, and donations are encouraged at the end of the night. On Fridays and Saturdays you can catch handpicked rising stars and a few professional comics performing their funniest sets, and weekdays feature either new material spots, improv troupes or solo shows. But Angel Comedy’s biggest sell is the inclusive, welcoming atmosphere – despite being a freebie gig, the punters are all here for the comedy rather than simply a cheap night out.
Where Camden Head, 2 Camden Walk, N1 8DY.
Nearest tube Angel.
When Seven nights a week.
How much Free! Well, donations. Give generously.
What No frills weekend stand-up here, all for a low, low ticket price. The Piccadilly Comedy Club charges a tenner max, and while its venue itself, upstairs at the Comedy Pub, is a bit basic – plastic chairs crammed into a small room – the line-ups are tremendously good value. Promoter and regular MC Mike Manera prides himself on showcasing the best newbie comics and breakthrough acts alongside the usual circuit regulars and TV names. He has excellent taste, too – his newcomer picks are spot-on. It makes the bills so much more varied and exciting than most other weekend clubs, and gives up-and-comers a break on the pro circuit. Good on you, Mike.
Where The Comedy Pub, 7 Oxendon St, SW1Y 4EE.
Nearest tube Piccadilly Circus.
When Every Friday and Saturday, plus many Thursdays and Sunday.
How much £7.50-£10.
What For value for money, variety and consistently stunning line-ups, it’s hard to beat Knock2Bag. The bills here are packed to the rafters, with seven or more top quality acts often in one night, and there is always a mix of inventive sketch troupes, weirdo character acts and slick stand-ups, from household names to the finest new comics. And no, we have no idea what the name means, so don’t ask.
Where Knock2Bag is at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA, and the Moth Club, Old Trades Hall, Valette St, E9 6NU
Nearest tubes Liverpool St or Hackney Central.
When Loads of dates, check the website.
How much £8-£12.
See listings for Knock2Bag West and Knock2Bag East
Laugh Out London
What How do they do it? We bet a lot of comedy promoters would like to know Laugh Out London’s secret. Somehow, Jack De’ath and Thomas Meek put together pretty much the finest line-ups in town, featuring TV big ’uns (like Harry Hill and Stewart Lee), multi-award winners (like Doctor Brown and John Kearns) and the very best alt-circuit acts out there. And the shows are dirt cheap! So how do they pull it off? Perhaps it’s because LOL provides a friendly environment for comics to experiment. Maybe it’s because the club’s punters are intelligent, comedy-savvy Londoners that comics love playing to. Or perhaps it’s simply because De’Ath and Meek are very nice people. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working a treat, and Laugh Out London now has nearly half-a-dozen branches across the capital. We particularly recommend the chaotic conceptual nights in Camden – they’re totally stupid and so much fun.
Where All over. Islington, Camden, Victoria Park, Stoke Newington and Brixton.
When Sporadic nights each month – you’ll have to look these up.
How much Various prices, but cheap. Usually seven quid, max.
See listings for Islington, Camden, Victoria Park, Stoke Newington and Brixton.
What London’s newest permanent comedy venue has quickly become a go-to destination for stand-up lovers. The Bill Murray in Angel – formerly the Mucky Pup pub – is the brainchild of the team behind hugely successful pay-what-you-want gig Angel Comedy (see number seven in this list). The venue hosts regular Angel Comedy gigs (still donation-only) plus other experimental line-up shows, solo offerings and work-in-progresses. Since it opened officially in 2016, Simon Amstell, Daniel Kitson and Tim Key have all tested new material at the venue. And because the Bill Murray often hosts multiple shows a night – in two different rooms – it feels a bit like a mini Edinburgh Fringe right here in London. Now if only the aloof US film star would drop in one day…
Where The Bill Murray, 39 Queen’s Head St, N1 8NQ.
Nearest tube Angel.
When Seven days a week.
How much Various prices.
What It’s true, the Comedy Store is still the daddy of all comedy clubs. Seemingly as old as London itself (it actually started in 1979, above a strip club), the Store has been instrumental in the growth of alternative comedy, and still to this day hosts stunning shows most nights of the week. Veteran improvisers the Comedy Store Players perform every Wednesday and Sunday. Don’t miss the raucous King Gong new act night on the last Monday of the month. And the weekend bills are still consistently excellent, even if the line-ups haven’t changed much in the last decade. As a purpose built comedy club, the room itself is pretty much the best for stand-up in the capital. The 400 chairs hug the stage, keeping each show intimate, as comedy should be. It’s not just reputation that keeps it as popular as ever.
Where 1a Oxendon St, SW1Y 4EE.
Nearest tube Piccadilly Circus.
When Six to seven nights a week.
How much Depends on the show. King Gong’s £8, but the weekend line-up shows range from £14-£23.50.
What And here we have our number one. No, it’s not technically a comedy club, Soho Theatre’s main focus is fringe, well, theatre (you might’ve guessed that from the title.) But across its three performances spaces, this is undoubtedly the best venue for interesting, innovative and downright funny comedy in London. Rather than multi-bill nights, the theatre usually programmes hour-long solo shows from some of the finest comedy acts in the world. In its Theatre, Downstairs and Upstairs rooms, the venue hosts London performances of Edinburgh Fringe hits, the best in international stand-up, and shows that are a little more theatrical than straight man-and-a-mic stand-up. Where are you most likely to see the latest Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winner? Soho Theatre. Where did US comedy giants Louis CK, Doug Stanhope and Aziz Ansari first perform in London? Soho Theatre. Where can you see superstar names – like Eddie Izzard and Russell Brand – testing new ideas? You get the idea… Basically, if you want to see exciting, cutting-edge comedy, get yourself down to Soho Theatre.
Where 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE.
Nearest tube Tottenham Court Rd.
When Most nights of the week.
How much Various prices. Roughly £10-£20, depending on the show.