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From P.G Woodhouse to Monty Python, some may claim that laughter may be in the genetic code of many of London residents. It’s no wonder that London has more comedy venues in its metropolitan area than most of today’s modern cities. Just like London, has over shadowed New York and other performing arts Meccas with Theatre, Art and Fashion, the British Invasion continues with Comedy. Comedians like Eddie Izzard, Rowan Atkinson, and Craig Ferguson and TV shows like Absolutely Fabulous, Black Adder and Little Britain are house hold names around the world. Comedy Acts range from sketch performances, improve, and traditional stand, up to more abstract and observational comedy. With such a wide scope of venues, acts and a pedigree for humor and satire there is something to set you chuckling the night away in London.
Like any other live performance, if you want the best seats in the house, book your tickets well in advance. This is especially true if you are planning on going to one of the big name events. If you are going to try something a little more last minute make sure you go early in the week. Both visiting and local comedians have four day runs that span from Wednesday to Sunday. Wednesdays are usually cheaper, less crowded and the comics are more inclined to try out new material. It is also good to check each venue’s schedule because there are often promotions and free nights during the week.
It’s also good to verify admission requirements. Most places are 18 and up and sometimes there are strange rules like no groups of 5 or more of the same sex. Dress codes are usually casual and unless you are going to one of the huge theaters for a big event, the small pubs and clubs usually have food and drink so making prior dinner plans is not essential. It is also good to avoid sitting in the front unless you want to be part of the show.
With a wide spectrum of shows that include everything from high camp drag shows to offbeat stand up, chortle enthusiasts are sure to find something to tickle their funny bone. One of the staples in the London laughter scene is The Comedy Store. Started in 1979, The Comedy Store has gone from a small stage above a strip club to a large scale venue with regular performances from some the world’s most popular comedians including Chris Rock, and Robin Williams.
With 6 venues around the West End the 99 Club is another one of London’s comedy mainstays. Each venue has its own unique atmosphere and the company is very selective about who it books so that each performance is fresh and cutting edge. They are famous for their alternative comedy and being some of the few comedy spots in London that have a performance every night of the week. The crown jewel of the 99 Club is their venue in Leicester square known as Strom.
Some other, off kilter, venues include Madam Jojos which is a glittery transvestite comedy club and String fellows which is known for its tacky lap dances. Jongleurs is another comedy club that is well known for attracting the big name comedians. Popular for both its casual and rowdy atmosphere is The Comedy Café. This spot also has live music and dancing along with its comedy shows. Wednesday night performances at this venue are usually free.
While it has other performances outside of Comedy events the O2 Arena often has large headline events. The historic Hammersmith Apollo is also like this and has a wide variety of shows including comedy acts. Along with laughing the night away guest can gander at the art deco design of this 1930s theatre.