The best of 2012: comedy

Time Out's comedy editor picks his favourite comedy moments of 2012... and one turkey

Storytellers, dark clowns and ruddy good puns, Ben Williams picks his favourite (and least favourite) comedy gigs of 2012.

The best of 2012...

  • 1
    © Joan Marcus

    Mike Birbiglia – My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

    This unassuming American comic’s Soho Theatre run wowed the crap out of us earlier this year. Birbiglia’s a master storyteller, telling relaxed, interweaving tales with a stoner-vibe. ‘My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’ focused on the Massachusetts-born comic’s relationship hits and misses, with smart callbacks, beautifully witty lines and charming asides. That’s why this warm, blissfully funny 80 minutes is our comedy show of the year.

    Read our Mike Birbiglia interview

  • 2

    Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast

    We’ve become obsessed with Herring’s latest free download, and it’s even funnier as a live show. In RHLSTP, the consummate comic sits down with superstar names: Armando Iannucci, Stewart Lee, Graham Linehan, Reece Shearsmith… we could go on. 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?’ The show’s also forced a wonderful new phrase into our vocabulary: ‘Put a shrek in it!’

  • 3

    Trevor Noah – The Racist

    Trevor Noah’s smooth, intelligent stand-up show about growing up in South Africa (where he’s a huge star) under apartheid was a massive hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Slick, skilfully constructed and expertly performed, this was a real treat.

    Read our Trevor Noah interview
    See listings for Trevor Noah

  • 4

    Doctor Brown – Befdfgth

    The 2012 list of Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees was mighty strong, but in the end, the correct clown won. The latest show from Phil Burgers’s slightly threatening silent act Doctor Brown was a perfectly paced hour of silly physical comedy with a celebratory finale. A truly magical show from a mysterious (no one knows Burgers’s age!), incredibly creative talent.

    Read our Doctor Brown interview
    See listings for Doctor Brown

  • 5

    The Pun Run

    It’s often groaned at, but Bec Hill’s hugely popular monthly gig has proved that there are plenty of folk who, like us, love a good bit of wordplay. The Pun Run gig mixes sharp one-liner merchants with pun-only sets from acts not usually known for their bon mot skills. It’s our favourite mixed-bill night of the year.

    See listings for The Pun Run

...and the worst of 2012

  • Keith Allen Keith Allen - © Associated-Reiffusion

    The Establishment

    When Keith Allen and Co announced they were reviving Peter Cook’s anarchic 1960s club The Establishment at Ronnie Scott’s, we were dead excited. Sadly, it was deeply disappointing. Allen, who awkwardly MCed the late-night gigs, was convinced that he was single-handedly saving the ‘bland’ stand-up circuit. But if he’d of just done a bit of research, he would have discovered that the alternative scene is still very much alive and well, and The Establishment’s bills were hardly boundary-pushing. The Ronnie’s regulars seemed to be enjoying the costly cocktails, though.

    Read our feature on The Establishment