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Udderbelly Festival 2013: the top ten comedy shows

Our top ten comedy tips for this bovine South Bank festival

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That ruddy great big purple cow behind the London Eye, the Udderbelly, plays host to the biggest comedy festival in London (as well as top-notch cabaret, theatre and music). This year's three-month programme offers over 40 chuckle-inducing shows to choose from. So, to help you pick a guaranteed humdinger, here are our top ten comedy picks.

The top ten comedy shows at Udderbelly Festival 2013

Tony Law
© Ed Marshall

Tony Law – Maximum Nonsense

Comedy Solo shows

It's your last chance to catch loony Canadian Tony Law's Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award nominated show, and tickets are selling fast. Maximum Nonsense is a blisteringly funny, brilliantly bonkers hour of absurd stories and deconstructions of stand-up protocol. What sets Law apart from other surrealist comics is he's totally unpretentious – he's as baffled by his lunacy as his audience. An absolute joy of a show. Go!

Have a go at Tony Law's interactive Vikings quiz

Ardal O'Hanlon – Live 2013

Comedy Stand-up

We love this award-winning actor, writer, comedian and star of 'Father Ted', 'My Hero' and RTE's 'Val Falvey'. O'Hanlon's low-key sense of bewilderment adds an offbeat slant to his observational routines about life's annoyances. Behind the wide-eyes there's a brilliant comic mind working away to get the most out of every superbly sharp line.

Read our Ardal O'Hanlon interview

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The Boy with Tape on His Face – More Tape

Comedy Stand-up

Proving that you can still be incredibly funny without uttering a word, physical comedy sensation The Boy with Tape on His Face (aka Sam Wills) was the hit of last year's Edinburgh Fringe, selling out a 700-seat venue every night, and is fresh from a wildly successful West End run. The Boy mixes mime, props and audience interaction to create beautiful visual punchlines and some truly magicial moments. This show really does speak for itself.

Read what happened when we went prop-shopping with The Boy with Tape on His Face

Susan Calman – Out of my Mind

Comedy Stand-up

Feisty Scot Calman – a regular on Radio 4's 'The News Quiz' and as seen on 'Have I Got News For You' and 'QI' – is back with a brand new show. Calman's always wonderfully funny, mixing silly (often cat-related) thoughts with political jabs. Her last show, 'This Lady's Not for Turning Either', bagged itself a Chortle Award nomination for Best Show, and we can't wait to see her new offering.

Read our Susan Calman interview

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Time Out Introduces

Comedy Stand-up

'Time Out Introduces? Introduces whom?' you ask. Good question. We've put together these bills to introduce you to 16 of our favourite rising stars of the stand-up world. Each line-up features eight new(ish) comics, plus a well-known host. Mr Andrew Maxwell MCs the April gig, and Stephen K Amos hosts the June date, and performing across the nights are Pat Cahill, Lucy Beaumont, Matt Rees, Mark Stephenson, Sunil Patel and oh so many more.

Doc Brown

Comedy Musical

Doc Brown (not to be confused with US mime/clown act Doctor Brown) is an extraordinarily talented rapper-turned-comic who seamlessly fuses hip-hop and stand-up. In his super-sharp songs, Doc smartly makes fun of the ridiculous arrogance of rap stars, and even gives hip-hop a British middle-class twist with a rap about making the perfect brew. Recently, he's popped up in Ricky Gervais's 'Derek' and supported 'The Office' co-creator on his Scandinavian tour. Expect Doc Brown to be a lot more famous very soon…

Watch our exclusive video of Doc Brown's history of alternative comedy 

Read our Doc Brown interview

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Austentatious – An Improvised Novel

Comedy Improv

Improv gets a bad rap in this country, but anyone who dismisses the genre clearly hasn't seen Austentatious. This highly impressive troupe perform a completely improvised Jane Austen novel, complete with period dress and cello accompaniment, with marvellous results. Made up of Andrew Murray, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Joseph Morpurgo, Cariad Lloyd, Graham Dickson and Rachel Parris, they're all hugely talented performers, able to keep the gag rate high and the made-up story rolicking along. Tremendous fun.

Glenn Wool

Comedy Solo shows

Heavily moustached Canadian comic Glenn Wool was once a regular on the London comedy circuit, but he's rarely in the country these days. It's a treat, then, to have him back in the capital for a one-off show at the cow. He's suave, honest, challenging and incredibly funny, telling mischievous tales of his various misadventures. A master stand-up.

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Nick Helm - One Man Mega-Myth

Comedy Stand-up

Gruff-voiced Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominee Nick Helm is a one-man comedy power-house (no, we don't know what that sentence means either). Basically, expect ambitious, aggressive, terrifying, emotionally unstable and frickin' hysterical stand-up from this power-ballad loving comic. High-octane hilarity. A Time Out favourite.

Read our Nick Helm interview

Simon Munnery – Fylm-Makker

Comedy Solo shows

He's consistently one of the most innovative comedy talents out there, and yet again Simon Munnery's come up with a super-inventive idea in his latest show. The comic spends the entire hour sat in the audience, broadcast live onto a screen on stage. Using some cunning lighting and a piece of glass, Munnery's able to switch the shot between his face and whatever's sitting on the table in front of him, Science Museum-style. It's a relaxed show, there's no over-arching theme or slick links; it doesn't need them – he's simply experimenting with his new toy, and brilliantly so. Comedy connoisseurs will love it.

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© Geraint Lewis

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