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London comedy club suggestion for fan of Mighty Boosh
June 23, 2014 9:58 PM   Subscribe

I'll be visiting London and I'd love to see some comedy while I'm there. I enjoy going to places like Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles and Second City in Chicago. I love British sketch comedy and love shows like the Mighty Boosh. What are some clubs where I can see some comedy in that vein?
posted by dottiechang to Travel & Transportation around London, England (11 answers total)
 
Time Out has comedy listings.
posted by lukemeister at 10:09 PM on June 23


British live comedy is mostly standup rather than sketch-based. The closest thing to sketch-based comedy in the UK is "revue". Improv by non-amateurs is basically non-existent.

So if your heart is set on something approaching a live version of the Mighty Boosh or UCB then you can find revue stuff in London if you trawl Time Out, and perhaps you'll get specific suggestions once the UK starts waking up.

But here's the thing: in 2014, revue-style comedy in the UK is mostly really, really bad. It is embarrassingly bad compared to UCB, and I say this as a Brit who lives in the US who doesn't particularly like UCB!

My very strong recommendation if you want to see good live British comedy is to see some standup.

This answer changes enormously if you can get yourself to Edinburgh in August though, so do post back if that's a possibility.
posted by caek at 10:13 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


There is some sketch comedy about,
If you can catch Pappy's doing an actual full show I would greatly recommend it. Their most recent Edinburgh show was fantastic.

So pre August you should look for Edinburgh previews, August you should go to Edinburgh, post August most comedians tend to tour their shows.

There is some regular improv done though.
The classic improv would be Comedy Store players who you might recognise from Whose Line is it Anyway and the like.
You can generally see them in London.

Noel Fielding is on tour at the moment, so again, depends when you're here, I think it is a solo show though.

London is absolutely covered in comedy clubs. I would bet, wherever you stay in London you will be within 10 minutes walk of a comedy club. (Well in Zone 1 and probably 2 anyway).
Also there are regular London Comedy Events.
Currently there is a pre-Edinburgh event on at the south bank. Udderbelly

The Camden Fringe is on at the same time as Edinburgh (it's much much smaller, but crucially you don't have to go to Edinburgh)

The Brighton Comedy Festival is on a bit later, not London, but very very close (about an hour on a train)

There is an Ealing Comedy Festival also...

I could go on...
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:05 AM on June 24


Get audience tickets for a TV show. When I was in London we saw QI and Mock the Week. It was pretty easy.

http://golondon.about.com/od/londonforfree/a/tvaudience.htm
posted by elsietheeel at 6:07 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]


It's true that there aren't a lot of people in the UK who make their living doing full-time improv comedy, but there are some. There also seems to have been an explosion over the last few years of what you might call serious amateurs -- IE, people who have other day jobs, but who perform improv regularly at a high standard. The result is that you can see some strikingly good improv comedy here. And not just "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" style; there's a wide variety including long-form, character-based, and scene-based performances.

I've been particularly impressed with what I've seen of The Science of Living Things, The Maydays, and The Showstoppers.

If there isn't a particular group you want to see on a given day, you might check out the Hoopla! Improv Comedy Club near London Bridge and take a chance on whatever is there. A lot of the improv comedy scene seems to go through there. (Disclosure: I took a course at Hoopla! and am in a group that hopes to one day get stage time there. I don't think that makes me biased but I figured I'd mention it.)
posted by yankeefog at 7:03 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


Absolutely free up a Monday evening for Old Rope at the Phoenix, it was one of the best nights I had in London. Established comedians go there to try out new material, and you never know who might be there. The pub food is quite good too. (bonus: the friend who put me on to it is a HUGE Boosh fan, and has said that Noel himself makes appearances from time to time)
Also seconding trying for audience tickets for tapings. Thanks to Mefite suggestions some years ago, I hooked up with SRO Audiences and got to be second row for Live At The Apollo.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:05 PM on June 24


Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I suppose I should have noted that I'll be there in December.

I am someone that attacks vacation planning from a long range out! I'm also stringing together this vacation using reward points, so that means advance planning is necessary.

I wasn't sure how to search for what I wanted but now I know to search for "comedy festivals" and "revues." I like stand up also and will take a look at taping for shows.

We will be staying in the West End (thanks to some long hoarded credit card reward points) and will stay in London for a week before moving on to Paris. We may make a quick day trip to nearby areas if something super fun pops up but otherwise will be doing the many cliche things that first time visitors do--riding the London Eye, rushing through the Tate Modern, high tea at the Savoy, and tracking down their high school crush Graham Coxon.

I'll also be visiting the Broad Street Pump (I am a nerd) and the adjacent pub.

I love art, graphic design, comic books, britpop/college/indie/punk music, and amazing pastries.

Places I love in Los Angeles are the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Ooga Booga, Family Books, the Smell, Meltdown Comics, Zuma Beach, the Magic Castle, and Skylight Books. Any suggestions that you think might appeal to a lady like me are welcome! (For London or Paris!)

So excited!!!!!!
posted by dottiechang at 8:33 PM on June 24


Have you had a look at Londonist
they tend to do pretty good reporting of things to do in London.

Also, in a similar(ish) vein to the Broad Street Pump are you planning on visiting Greenwich observatory? It's where time was invented.
Also it's on the Prime Meridian, so that's cool.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:06 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


OK, I suggest this pretty much every time anybody asks for advice on London. But given that you are excited about the Broad Street Pump, I think you'll get particular enjoyment out of it. And given that you won't be here until December, you'll have time to track the book down. So:

Get Anton Powell's Londonwalks. It is my favorite guide to the city. It is long out of print, so you'll have to buy a used copy (or download it to your kindle.) And because the last edition was published more than a decade ago, all the hotel and restaurant information will be out of date.

But the heart of the book is all the cool and quirky historical stuff it shows you along the various walking tours, and that stuff doesn't change.

The big downside is that, in December, London will be a little cold and dark, so you might not feel like doing a lot of walking outside. But if you get a sunny day, it will be well worth having the book on hand.

When in December are you coming, by the way? If you will be here over Christmas, be warned that London really shuts down over Christmas. There's virtually no public transportation, and most shops and restaurants and museums are closed. Those restaurants that are open are frequently pre-booked for Christmas meals. So, if you will be traveling in late December, you may want to spend Christmas in Paris (which is a little more open and manageable at that time.)
posted by yankeefog at 8:50 AM on June 27


I'll be there the week of NYE and then headed to Paris for the soldes (sales) in early Jan. I was hoping that was long enough after Boxing Day for things to wake back up again in London.

Was thinking of splashing out for NYE dinner at the Duck and Waffle! I have a health condition that would make it hard for me to stand out in the cold and wait for midnight, so was looking for something fun that allowed a view of the fireworks but from a warm place. Was also looking at the restaurants in the Shard for NYE countdown.
posted by dottiechang at 2:40 PM on June 27


Yeah, most places will be open more-or-less as usual on December 27-30. Some places will close early on December 31, but that's manageable. Also public transportation should be running from Boxing Day onward, although you may want to take a look at the Transport for London website before you start your day's touring, just to make sure that a particular Tube stop isn't closed for repairs or anything. In past years, on New Year's Eve, by the way, they have had free Tube travel for much of the night.

I don't think they've announced this year's holiday transport schedule yet, but here is the Christmas/New Year's schedule for 2013, just to give you a sense for how it has worked in the past.

NYE at the Duck & Waffle or the Shard sounds great! Never done it, but would love to.
posted by yankeefog at 1:47 AM on June 29


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