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What’s On London Comedy Awards 2016

| Comedy, Things to do | 14/10/2016

WOL Comedy Awards

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Now the sun has firmly set on this year’s season of comedy festivals, it’s time for What’s On London to announce our 2016 Comedy Award Winners and alert you to where you can catch these acts over the next couple of months.  

The field is stronger than ever before.  Londoners are privileged to have such a talented generation of performers available to entertain them across the city on each and every night of the week, in every conceivable style.  Whether you’re after stand-up, music, sketches, improv or something else entirely, the list of winners below contains something for everyone.

So follow our advice: make this the season of good cheer, book some tickets, get out of the house and keep yourself warm with the roar of laughter.

0006086232_10Best Stand-up Comedy Act: Nick Helm At times, nearly as confrontational as Bill Burr; at other times, as vulnerable as it’s possible to appear without being carted off in a straightjacket.

Undistracted by his album launch earlier in the year, Nick’s repeatedly shown he performs edgy stand-up better than anyone.  Hitting the Edinburgh Fringe for just one work-in-progress show – due to filming commitments with Uncle – that rambling, ranting and raucously funny two hours reinforced his place at the top of the pile.  A regular on the London circuit, you can catch Nick at The Tommyfield, Kennington on 20th October 2016 (buy tickets here) and follow him on Twitter @TheNickHelm for details on other upcoming gigs.

Many other stand-ups excelled at the Fringe, not least the always excellent Stewart Lee and James Acaster.  Stewart performs his new show, ‘Content Provider’, at Leicester Square Theatre between November 2016 and January 2017 (buy tickets here), while James brings ‘Reset’ to The Lyric Theatre on 5th December 2016 (buy tickets here).  Follow James @JamesAcaster for future shows (Stewart’s too cool for Twitter).

Newer to the scene, Rhys James also stood out in ‘Forgives’ – James delivers a very impressively written show full of great jokes, call-backs and over-privileged angst (see our review here).  He’s currently on a UK tour with Adam Hess, but appears at The Comedy Loft in Camden on 5th November 2016 (buy tickets here).  Follow him @RhysJamesy.

Rachel Parris 299Best Musical Comedy Act: Rachel Parris, Best Laid Plans – Parris neatly combines her warm brand of self-deprecating stand-up with expertly performed and hilarious songs.  See our preview here and review here.  

When she’s not starring in Austentatious (see below), the heir to Victoria Wood’s throne appears regularly across London, performing her blend of fantastic songs and endearingly honest stand-up.  Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelParris for details of her UK tour in the Spring.  Her next major London performance is on 6th November 2016 at Hackney House (buy tickets here).  As a taster, you can sample her talents on YouTube here and here.

Jonny & The Baptists – Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Servers – also excelled in ‘Eat The Poor’, an entertaining, satirical set about friendship and inequality.  Follow the duo @Jonny_Baptists for future gigs, which won’t be until Jonny returns from touring the US with the amazing ‘Every Brilliant Thing’.

Excitingly, Rachel, Jonny and Paddy have announced they’re teaming up for ’30 Christmases’ – a festive, musical comedy for grownups – in Oxford between 13th and 23rd December 2016 (buy tickets here).  If that doesn’t tempt you into a day-trip from the capital, nothing will.

RAVE Edinburgh posterBest Comedy Sketch Act: Birthday Girls, Sh*t Hot Party Legends – You’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable time than an hour of Birthday Girls’ raucously funny sketches.  See our review here.

Birthday Girls – Rose Johnson, Beattie Edmondson and Camille Ucan – regularly tour across the UK, in between their increasing acting commitments (Beattie’s currently starring in the new series of BBC Three’s Josh).  For details of the immensely talented trio’s upcoming live sketch shows in London, follow them @BDayGirlsComedy, where they’ve just announced a run at Soho Theatre between 15th and 19th November 2016 (buy tickets here).

An honourable mention goes to Lazy Susan – Celeste Dring and Freya Parker – for their live-wire performances in ‘Crazy Sexy Fool’ – If you like your comedy surreal and fun, make sure you catch this energetic and talented sketch duo before they hit the big time.  See our review here.  Lazy Susan are performing on 8th November 2016 at The Comedy Grotto, The Star of Kings (N1) (buy tickets nearer the time here).  Fellow them @ComedySusan.

©Richard-DavenportBest Improvised Comedy Act: Austentatious, An Improvised Jane Austen NovelAustentatious perform the very best improvised comedy, blowing the audience away with their talent, timing and interaction.  Even those who hate Austen can love this.  See our preview here and review here.

Austentatious – formed of experienced comedy actors Charlotte Gittins, Andrew Murray, Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Joseph Morpurgo, Cariad Lloyd, Graham Dickson, Rachel Parris and Daniel Nils Roberts – are currently touring the UK, performing their hugely entertaining shows based on original, and often whimsical, Jane Austen titles suggested by audience members.  For details of dates, times and venues, follow them on Twitter @AustenImpro.  The London-based improvised comedy troupe are finding the time to perform each month at Leicester Square Theatre on 30th October, 27th November and 18th December 2016 (buy tickets here).

Fans of improv should also check out The Free Association (see our review here and buy tickets for shows on 15th, 20th, 21st and 22nd October 2016 here) and The Slapdash International Festival of Improv between 19th and 22nd October 2016 (buy tickets here).

Andrea Hubert 1Best Debut Comedy Act: Andrea Hubert, Week – Hubert delivers a refreshingly sardonic debut show, providing a whole lot of laughs against the back-drop of an important journey towards managing mental health issues.  See our preview here and review here.  

Following a hugely successful first hour-long show at the Fringe, Andrea is performing the hilarious, cutting but ultimately uplifting ‘Week’ at Museum of Comedy on 20th October 2016 (buy tickets here).  Follow her on Twitter @ShutUpAndrea for details of the former Guardian arts journalist’s upcoming shows, incisive and amusing articles for various publications, and exciting sit-com projects in the pipeline.

Strong debuts from Scott Gibson (@BigScottGibson) and Wanstead-born Bilal Zafar (@Zafarcakes) also marked them as ones to watch.  Scott (billed as ‘a story-telling Frankie Boyle’) brings his Fringe show ‘Life Before Death’ to Soho Theatre between 20th December 2016 and 14th January 2017 (buy tickets here), while Bilal is performing ‘Cakes’ – his wry take on Islamophobia – at the same venue between 23rd and 28th January 2017 (buy tickets here nearer the time).

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