London's finest floating comedy club has been running for about 12 years now. The venue is a beautifully refurbished paddle steamer, moored permanently opposite the London Eye, on the Embankment near Westminster. The Tattershall Castle is its name, and each show boasts four top comics plus special guests. There are lots of intervals, the website proudly tells you, so you can keep your drinks topped up on board, at one of the four air conditioned bars. An added bonus is the twinkly views across the Thames as you wait for your drinks to be served.
Local Expert tip: If you go at the weekend, the price of the ticket also includes admission to the nightclub, so after you've laughed the evening away, you can dance the night away to a selection of classic numbers.
Knock2Bag comedy club moves around London, it has three main venues in the capital, one at the Luxe near Brick Lane in the East, another in Shepherd's Bush, in the West and the third at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill. They also run residences monthly at various bars and venues, so go to their website for full listings and to find out what's going on and when. Here you'll find stand up, character and story based comedy on a par. Some of their nights they have 10-15 minute taster sessions with a succession of comics all capable of sustaining a full evening, but enough to give you a taste and desire to see their full shows. The club packs out all its venues and seems to play almost always to glowing reviews.
Local Expert tip: Check the club's website for venues and listings of the acts.
Downstairs at the Kings Head is a venue for comedy and live music. Upstairs is a great neighbourhood pub, full of the great and the good of Crouch End, a lively crowd on a Saturday night, they do good beer, nice wines, and some tasty food. There are pub quizes, comedy variety cabarets, and comedy evenings with live music, so something for everyone. This club has a relaxed feel, and even the big name comedians that sometimes appear feel free to experiment and have fun at this venue. The promoter Peter Grahame has been running this club since 1981, he's very knowledgeable on the comedy circuit and has built this venue into a successful club away from the centre of town.
Local Expert tip: Get there early if you want a table and have a large group as this place tends to fill up.
Nights at the Union Chapel, which happen monthly at the moment are described as 'comedy's spiritual home' cue much laughter and jokes. But bad puns aside, this monthly occurrence is big in the capital's comedy circuit. It's been running since 2007, and the website claims to have had the following big name comics in the UK tread their boards. Ed Byrne, Noel Fielding, Frankie Boyle, Stephen Merchant, Josie Long, Russell Howard, Mark Watson, Reginald D Hunter, Simon Amstell, Stewart Lee, and Tim Key. The Union is also a great venue for other evening events, from live music to carol singing, so it's definitely worth noting in your diary even if you don't happen to be in town for the comedy night. By day, this is a working church, and the chapel also does a lot of work with the homeless too.
Local Expert tip: Comedy is once a month at the Union, but there are loads of other great events going on in this lively chapel.
The Comedy Store, London has been described as the 'Daddy' of all comedy clubs, their bill is ever changing, and it's the go to place if you're looking for good comedy in the capital. Although now it might seem fairly mainstream, the club has been instrumental in promoting alternative comedy since its inception. Once a month they have events like King Gong on a Monday night and the weekend bills are packed with very funny big names in comedy. This is the place of choice for groups after work in London, and out-of-towners who fancy seeing some London comedy, but it has got a good enough sense of itself that its cachet is not lost even though it's well known.
Local Expert tip: Discounts available to students and nurses with valid ID on certain nights.
The Soho theatre describes itself as London's most 'vibrant venue for comedy, writing and cabaret'. The theatre actually comprises three theatres within it, the 150 seat Soho Theater, a 90 seater Soho Upstairs, and a cabaret space in Soho downstairs. This last they promise, is Berlin meets New York style space of derring do. They aim to bring you the most entertaining, brave and theatrical new work, and they also pride themselves in nurturing new and groundbreaking acts. There's a great bar here too, and it's a perfect hang out for artists, media and comedy fans to hang out, catch a few acts and then chew the fat until dawn.
Local Expert tip: The Soho theatre prides itself on getting the community involved too, so you can apply to them to take part in one of its new projects. Playreading for the 60+ perhaps? Or become one of the friends of the theatre and support it financially and artistically.
The Leicester Square Theatre has an illustrious past, as it was the venue of the Cavern Club in the swinging Sixties. The group The Small Faces had a residency there, the Rolling Stones played there with the Who, and the Sex Pistols held several gigs there, including their preview of 'London Calling'. Over the last few years, it's been a venue to some of the world's top comedy acts. It opened with a run from American Comedienne, Joan Rivers and has also played host to Roseanne Barr, Sandra Bernhard from the other side of the 'Pond'. Top British acts include Bill Bailey and Michael McIntyre, and the venue is also hosting 'Funny Women' nights well into 2013. They also host Germany's comedy ambassador to the UK, and lots of up and coming, or underground acts scattered among their big draws.
Local Expert tip: They have an ever changing array of acts and themed monthly appearances going on, so check out their website for details. If you like to support funny women, then get here now, they are running events in support of that in to 2013.
There are now 3 Amused venues in London, one in Soho, another in Camden, and the third in Covent Garden downstairs in the Australian themed pub, 'Walkabout'. This perhaps tells you a little about the kind of comedy they put on. The group also run comedy courses for beginners and absolute beginners for anyone hoping to get in on the act. The place specializes in a lot of comics which have already made it on to British television screens, and mixes them with some of their home grown talent, and winners of their very own Amused Moose awards.
Local Expert tip: As well as comedy, at the weekends, there are late bars, music, DJs and dancing, so go prepared for a fun night out. They also have a New Year's Eve special night.
This is the kind of comedy night that hosts the intellectual clever comics of Radio 4 and the Guardian. The kind that weave a whole story, or create funny characters before hitting you with their comedy. This is grown up comedy for all those who like comedy mixed with fine dining, good conversation and a nice glass of whisky. Ivor Dembina plays host to most nights and is said to pick the acts himself. There is a mix of TV and radio favourites, regulars from the London comedy circuits and a few hotly tipped newbies thrown into the mix. This is cosy, and nice but hilariously funny too. Comedy for the chattering classes.
Local Expert tip: Get there early and check out Primrose Hill and Camden Town nearby before heading in for a night of merriment
The Soho comedy club, is set inside the Empire Casino, Leicester Square. You walk past the gamblers and players on your way to a chandelier decorated room where the comedy is held. They do special Christmas packages of a three course meal, a glass of prosecco, and an evening of entertainment too. Soho Comedy Club has kept its prices low, just 7 pounds on Monday, and 10 pounds other nights with a copy of Time Out, otherwise it's 15 pounds, but in the celebrity fueled world of comedy, that's pretty low for the centre of London. They also feature Radio and Guardian favourite Shazia Mirza, and have space for new talent, and new material nights too.
Local Expert tip: Don't be put off by the casino venue, once you're inside, it's just like any other comedy club.