Top 10 comedy shows at Udderbelly Festival 2012

Comedy editor Ben Williams picks his highlights from this year's programme

The Udderbelly is effectively the biggest comedy festival in London, offering three months of mirth. 2012's line-up is the best yet, with over 100 chuckle-inducing shows to choose from. So, to help you pick a guaranteed humdinger, here are our ten hot comedy picks, in alphabetical order.

Top 10 comedy shows at Udderbelly Festival

  • Abandoman

    Apr 13 & May 11, Udderbelly

    Fresh from supporting trendy young Brit Award-winner Ed Sheeran on tour, Abandoman are truly awesome. The duo, made-up of Rob Broderick and James Hancox, freestyle raps and rhymes that are both astonishingly impressive and genuinely funny, all from suggestions thrown at them by the audience. Just don’t shout out ‘orange’ (…could ‘porridge’ work?).

  • The Boy With Tape On His Face

    May 25 and Jun 8, 29, Udderbelly

    The less you know about The Boy With Tape On His Face the more you will be delightfully surprised. However, (spoiler alert!) in essence this New Zealander is a mime act, dragging silent comedy into the twenty-first century with a series of magical audience-interactive scenes. Don’t worry, the ‘trapped in a glass box’ routine is nowhere to be seen.

  • Colin Hoult's Ultimate Carnival of Monsters

    May 12, Udderbelly

    A sort of crazed ‘League of Gentlemen’-style character comic, Colin Hoult’s twisted approach to humour is dark but always very silly. ‘Ultimately Carnival of Monsters’ combines the best bits of his three solo outings, so should be a real treat for both longtime fans and Hoult virgins.

  • Freeze! with Tim Key and Tom Basden

    May 17-19, Udderbelly

    There’s a good chance you may have seen Key and Basden’s award-winning solo shows, or guests spots on comedy bills. But have you watched them muck about with cans of Kronenbourg and act out commercials? The pair describe Freeze! – a mix of chaotic songs, sketches, short films and poems – as ‘divvyness’. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

  • Greg Proops

    Jun 15-16, Udderbelly

    Intelligent, acerbic and, quite often, pissed, the US ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ star promises a stripped-back stand-up show. A master of impro, a Greg Proops show can be completely different each night, as he proves on his ace topical podcast ‘The Smartest Man in the World’. Once a regular on the UK scene, his visits to our shores have been less frequent of late, so it’s good to have Proop Doggy Dogg back in London.

  • Isy Suttie, 'Pearl and Dave'

    May 26, Udderbelly

    A love story, set to music, ‘Pearl and Dave’ isn’t a belly-laugh joke-fest, but rather a touching tale of the relationship between Suttie’s childhood neighbour Dave and his unhappy married sweetheart Pearl, interspersed by stories from the delightful songstress’s own romantic past. Like having a lovely cup of tea in front of a glowing fire, it’s heartwarming, comforting and makes you go ‘ahh’. Take tissues.

  • The Joy of Sketch

    Apr 19 & Jun 11, Udderbelly

    Didn’t make it to Time Out Live and Pleasance’s sketch comedy extravaganza in the West End last December? (Seriously, though, where were you?) Well, you’re in luck. The Joy of Sketch is back, with two shows at the cow. We’re very excited to announce that foolhardy character comic Adam Riches, winner of the 2011 Edinburgh Comedy Award, will be appearing at both dates along with a mix of sketch favourites including shambolic trio Pappy’s, laddish five-piece Late Night Gimp Fight and fast-rising stars The Beta Males. Sketch addicts: do not miss.

  • Nina Conti - Talk to the Hand

    May 23 and Jun 6 & 13, Udderbelly

    Don’t be fooled by the innocent-looking Nina Conti. She has an uncensored mind, albeit expressed through smutty puppets Monk, Granny and Lydia. As a ventriloquism act, Conti’s highly skilled and hugely inventive, creating multi-layered stories and rounded characters who are so well acted (puppeted?) they often seem more like double-act partners than dummies.

  • Pete Firman

    Jun 1, Udderbelly

    Middlesbrough-born magical maestro Pete Firman has just finished wowing prime-time Saturday night audiences on BBC One’s ‘The Magicians’ and now finds himself playing to much bigger crowds. His infectious mix of friendly banter, astonishing tricks and cheeky innuendos is a real winner. If you’ve yet to get on board the Firman express, now’s the time.

  • Sean Hughes

    Apr 28, May 27 & Jun 24, Udderbelly

    This Perrier Award-winning Irish rascal has been on and off the stand-up circuit ever since he left his post as team captain in the Lamarr era of ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’. Thanks, in part, to giving up booze, he’s currently on razor-sharp form. As well as a new hour of stand-up, Hughes is also performing an intriguing, more theatrical comedy show, ‘Life Becomes Noises’, focusing on his father’s death. It will be less depressing than it sounds, we promise.