In the era of streaming and social media, the latest highly polished hour-long Netflix specials with every flattering, high-def angle of the world’s best stand-ups are available in an instant. But, as any of these seasoned comics will tell you, stand up comedy is at its best when you’re there in person, with a drink in hand, laughing alongside the audience and feeling like the comedian is actually talking directly to you.

Of course, the biggest and most famous comics are always in demand and usually not cheap to see- but that doesn’t mean that the lesser known comics you’re more likely to find in clubs and theatres will be any less funny, and quite often you’ll find you have a better time in a small room with a relatively unknown comic than being high above the stage in a sea of people in a gigantic arena, the big name comedian of the day being a speck in the distance. Nor does it mean you won’t see some big names in these clubs. So, after our list of best funny podcasts, we’ve compiled a list of the best comedy spots in London to get your fill of humour for an evening.

Camden Comedy Club

The Camden Comedy Club is a classic comedy venue, upstairs at The Camden Head in Camden Town (that’s a lot of Camdens). There’s plenty of comedy gold to be found here, from various different promoters. Saturday nights are when Hampstead Comedy Club takes place, and is run by longtime industry promoter Ivor Dembina hosting bigger names than earlier in the week. Gigs occur most nights of the week, and there’s a mixture of free and paying shows. You can find sketch and improv comedy alongside stand up, and occasionally previews of Edinburgh Fringe Shows. New panel show ideas and comedy formats have been tried out here too. In addition, there’s even masterclasses and workshops for anyone who wants to try a hand of their own at comedy. Performers have included Stewart Lee, Harry Hill and Sara Pascoe, and tickets cost as high as only £10. This club has pretty much everything when it comes to comedy.

WHERE: 100 Camden High Street, London, NW1 0LU
WEBSITE: camdencomedyclub.com

Angel Comedy at The Bill Murray

Yes, you’re correct in what you’re thinking, this pub is indeed named after the star of Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Lost In Translation. The pub was founded with the express purpose of being a comedy club, and it’s certainly been successful. A lot of the shows here are free, and the expectation is you donate some cash as you leave, depending on how highly you thought of the evening. There’s plenty of comedy, and there’s some big names that pop up on occasion. The venue is small and intimate, and shows sell out fast, and whilst it’s possible to get in on the night, don’t count on it and make sure you book online beforehand.

WHERE: 39 Queen’s Head St, London N1 8NQ

WEBSITE:www.angelcomedy.co.uk/bill-murray

Top Secret Comedy Club

The Top Secret Comedy Club began life as more of a secret than it is now, in a small basement in London. It’s now a lot bigger and in a different venue, though it’s still located in Covent Garden. There’s two performing areas, a ground floor space with 145 seat capacity and a bigger basement performing space with 220 seat capacity. The show however extends across both areas, so comics have to run up and down the stairs between sets. Some big names often drop in and try new material before heading off on tours or doing TV work, and there’s usually a young and vibrant crowd watching. The bar isn’t too pricey either, which is certainly a nice change from the rest of Covent Garden. Oh, and there’s Pringles. Again, acts often feature working on their Edinburgh Fringe Shows in the summer. Under 18s are allowed into the club with a parent, though of course there’s likely to be explicit language and humour.

WHERE: 170 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PD

WEBSITE: thetopsecretcomedyclub.co.uk

The Comedy Store

The Comedy Store is the most famous and prestigious comedy venue on this entire list, and for good reason. Located in Soho, it opened in 1979 as a counterpart to the original Store in Los Angeles. There was hardly any live comedy in Britain aside from a few working men’s clubs, so the newly opened venue kickstarted the British stand up trend we see today. Today you’re guaranteed to see high calibre comics who are at the top of their game, as well as plenty of improv comedy. A huge amount of high profile comedians have appeared over the years, like Mike Myers, French and Saunders, Eddie Izzard and Paul Merton, who remains a regular performer. There’s also the infamous King Gong, billed as “the most brutal open mic in London”, in which new young comics test their material against a jeering crowd and three judges, who can vote the comic off stage. If you turn up to the Comedy Store, you guaranteed a great night.

WHERE: 1A Oxendon Street, London, SW1Y 4EE
WEBSITE: london.thecomedystore.co.uk

Backyard Comedy Club

The Backyard Comedy Club is a bit different to the others on this list. Located in the East End, it’s a purpose built comedy club next to Bethnal Green tube station, and has the stage has the aesthetic of, you guessed it, a backyard. Don’t expect heckling here: the club operates a policy of having a non-heckling crowd, for a more chill theatre like venue. That doesn’t mean the comedy is any less funny, nor the laughs less raucous. Often performing at the club is founder Lee Hurst, alongside a wealth of comedic talent. One of its more unique shows is the monthly Nerd Nite, where three speakers give fun but informative talks in any topic they like. The venue also serves pizza and sides, and there’s also board games you can play (probably best to not do so next to the stage).

WHERE: 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, E2 OEL

WEBSITE: backyardcomedyclub.co.uk

The Boat Show Comedy Club

Here’s another comedy club that’s a bit more unique. All the comedic action takes place… on a boat. You can find this one in the West End opposite The London Eye, aboard the Tattershall Castle. Shows have four top comics, sometimes with a special guest. There’s a number of bars on board, all air conditioned. As you might expect, there’s some great views across the Thames as you have a quick drink between acts. The seating is pre-allocated and reserved for you before the show starts, and unallocated on the day seats are only available on Tuesdays. Oh, and tickets booked for the weekend include a free entry to the PopWorld nightclub, at the same venue, so you can make a real night of it.

WHERE: Tattershall Castle, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2HR

WEBSITE: www.boatshowcomedy.co.uk

Banana Cabaret

Balham is home to this comedy club, and has been for nearly 40 years. The stage is located inside the round Club Room, with audience members seated at tables for a true cabaret experience. The shows are all on the weekend, and the club has a firm commitment to promoting and showcasing new and upcoming talent in the comedy world, as well as featuring bigger veterans names. Catherine Tate, Rob Brydon and Lee Evans have all appeared here early in their careers, and there’s a Hall of Fame section on their website if you want to dive in and see some of the biggest performers. There’s also the Balham Comedy Festival which takes place each July, which is perhaps the best chance to see famous faces as well as great comedy.

WHERE: The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, SW12 9HD

WEBSITE: www.bananacabaret.co.uk


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