By DAWN EMERY, OCT 2017
London is unbeaten when it comes to comedy clubs – and in the time of Brexit and Donald Trump, we need a laugh more than ever. Here are our seven favourite venues:
1. LIVE AT THE CHAPEL
As venues go, this one is hard to beat. The spectacular 19th century, Grade I-listed Union Chapel in Islington hosts monthly comedy nights (it’s also a working church and drop-in center for the homeless). Comedians including Tim Minchin, Noel Fielding, Stewart Lee and Russell Howard have played here. The entertainment includes music from the house band, while proceeds from food sold on the night goes to the Margins Project, which helps those in Islington who are facing homelessness, crisis or isolation.
2. THE COMEDY STORE
Situated in Piccadilly, The Comedy Store has become something of a London institution, welcoming around 3,500 visitors every week – it began to live in a room above a Soho strip club in 1979. There is comedy shows at least six nights a week, ranging from improvisation to topical news-based jokes and the very best of stand up. The Comedy Store helped launch the careers of stars including French & Saunders, Jo Brand and Rik Mayall. Hollywood star Mike Myers was part of its first improvisation group.
3. THE TOP SECRET COMEDY CLUB
Amy Schumer, Eddie Izaard, Dara O’Briain and Trevor Noah are just some of the big names to play at the Top Secret Comedy Club. Jack Whitehall describes it as “one of London’s best comedy clubs” and it consistently receives rave reviews. Open every day of the year aside from Christmas, shows include RAW New Material night, where established comedians test out new routines, an improv night and stand-up shows. There’s an added bonus of relatively cheap booze.
4. ALWAYS BE COMEDY
We love this place. Always be Comedy attracts a loyal crowd, thanks to the popular MC James Gill and an impressive line-up of stand-up stars who have included Harry Hill, John Bishop and Stephen Merchant. The regular comedy nights take place in an upstairs room at the Tommyfield pub in Kennington every Thursday, but they often run additional gigs with top talent. Sign up for the mailing list on their website.
5. ANGEL COMEDY CLUB
A crowdfunding campaign raised £46,543 to fund Angel Comedy Club’s new venue last year. They took over an Islington pub, renamed it Bill Murray, and gave those who donated the chance to have an engraved plaque, with a name or message, on pretty much anything in the pub ranging from a fire exit to chairs and urinals. They have another venue, The Camden Head, and gigs are “free and funny” – there’s no ticket fee but donations are welcome. They also offer courses on topics such as stand up, sketch writing and improvisation.
6. BACKYARD COMEDY
Owned by British stand-up comedian Lee Hurst, and just two minutes from Bethnal Green tube, Backyard Comedy Club champions up-and-coming comedians as well as welcoming established acts such as Russell Howard, Reginald D Hunter and Sara Pascoe. They also host variety shows, cabaret and charity nights, and tickets start at a fiver. Even if you don’t fancy watching the comedy, there are comfy sofas, a fussball table and food and drink.
We have no idea what Knock2bag means, but we do know that the comedy club features a mix of stand-up act, sketch troupes and character acts. They run comedy nights in Shepherd’s Bush and the East End (at Rich Mix and the Moth Club) and Harry Hill is headlining next month.