Sunday 26th September

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What’s On London Comedy Awards 2017

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Now the New Year bells have finished chiming, it’s time to announce our Comedy Awards for the year just gone and news of where you can catch these fantastic acts in the months ahead.

There’s no shortage of talent around, so whittling down the vast forest of performers to a handful for each category has been tricky and some excellent comics have had to be overlooked.  On the plus side, that competition for bums on seats is driving artists onto new heights, constantly pushing boundaries of subject matter, delivery style and occasionally taste.

This is superb news for Londoners because, despite underlying political and economic uncertainty, its comedy scene is thriving.  While leading lights like Soho Theatre, Leicester Square Theatre and The Comedy Store will always drawn top acts and expectant audiences, it’s been fantastic to see less established venues such as 2Northdown and The Bill Murray host some of the biggest names in comedy this year, while monthly events like Suspiciously Cheap Comedy, Knock2bag and Rye Laughs regularly put on the best mixed bills in the country.

So take our advice and fill your 2018 with grins, chuckles and snorts by heading along to those venues or catching our top picks in stand-up, character, storytelling, musical, sketch and improvised comedy for 2017.

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Category: Comedy
30 CHRISTMASES - Production Image (3), image by Josh Tomalin

Thirty Christmases review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer and Reviewer

A marvellous musical comedy that manages to turn family trauma into heart-warming festive fare.

The story of a brother and sister trying to come to terms with a traumatic event may not sound like the most promising basis for a feelgood Christmas production, but few shows have quite so much festive soul as Thirty Christmases.

Part of that stems from the acting on display, with Jonny Donahoe, Rachel Parris and Paddy Gervers comfortably translating the warmth and humour of their comedy onto the stage.  But it’s mainly in the writing, with Donahoe managing to merge a cynical deconstruction of this objectively absurd annual event with sufficient affection and positivity about the human spirit.

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Category: Comedy
30 CHRISTMASES - Promo Image (1), image by Anna Soderblom

Jonny Donahoe: “If Christmas resonates of loss, grief or even guilt, you can’t escape that.”

Next week, rebellious musical comedy Thirty Christmases makes its London debut.  The brainchild of playwright, actor and musical comedian Jonny Donahoe – who stars in the show alongside Rachel Parris and Paddy Gervers – offers an intriguing alternative to more traditional glitzy festive fare.  

Ahead of the three-week run at New Diorama Theatre, Ian Cater caught up with the engaging Donahoe to discuss the show’s origins, and a host of topics ranging from Victoria Wood to reindeer sex.

For Andy Williams, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  “But for a lot of people, it’s traumatic,” Jonny Donahoe explains, with the patient, persuasive voice of his Every Brilliant Thing character, rather than the booming baritone heard at a Jonny and the Baptists gig.  “If it resonates of loss, grief or even guilt, you can’t escape that.  And it’s compounded by the fact that everywhere you go people are signposting that they’re having a joyous time.”

That harsh reality forms the backdrop to Thirty Christmases, written and performed this month by Donahoe at Euston’s New Diorama Theatre.  If it sounds a heavy premise for a festive show, that was the 34-year-old’s intention.

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Category: Comedy
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Rachel Parris: Keynote review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Parris delivers an upbeat message for the next generation, showcasing her recent development as a stand-up.

Over the past twelve months, Rachel Parris has started to tap into the sort of success her abilities warrant.  This has come at a price: an ominous invitation to deliver a motivational speech at her alma mater, Loughborough High School, in September.  The self-deprecating comedian, musician and actress is concerned she will have nothing of value to say to these “500 teenage girls with the education of princesses, but with the gritty realism of the East Midlands”, so uses Keynote to air what she’d like to share with the next generation and garner other ideas from her audience.

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Category: Comedy
Edinburgh-Festival-Fringe-2015

What’s On London’s Edinburgh Fringe Preview

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s largest arts event – officially starting today, we decided to follow the Highland herd and put together a list of the comedy shows we’re most looking forward to seeing this month and then subsequently in London.

Given the vast number of acts performing over the next month in this seventieth year of the Fringe, we can’t pretend our list is completely comprehensive, and apologise to the many worthy artists unmentioned below.  It reiterates just how spoilt for choice fans of live comedy currently are.  But we guarantee this: if you choose to see our suggested stand-up, character, storytelling, musical and sketch comedians, you won’t go far wrong.

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Category: Comedy
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Rachel Parris: “I was a bit nervous about the Samaritans seeing the show. I didn’t want them to think I was laughing at what they do.”

Tomorrow night, Rachel Parris gives the first of three performances of award-winning show Best Laid Plans at Soho Theatre this week.  Ahead of her run, she spoke to Ian Cater about break-ups, the curse of ‘niceness’ and fictitious twat bankers.   

Persuading you to go and see Rachel Parris this week at Soho Theatre should be an easy sell.

The talented comedian, singer, musician and actress is very much on an upwards trajectory, increasing her profile with each comedy gig, acting job and improv appearance she juggles across the country.  Parris’ voice – straight out of the West End – has long been her strongest suit, but her stand-up skills and confidence are catching up.  Her latest show, Best Laid Plans, showcases these superbly and earned Parris our Best Musical Comedy Act Award for 2016.

Despite her natural modesty, she describes the show’s current incarnation as “hopefully even better”.  Boosted by Soho Theatre’s atmospheric cabaret room and grand piano, perhaps even Parris is starting to believe in herself.

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Category: Comedy
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Chris Gethard: Career Suicide at Soho Theatre until 4th February 2017

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Gethard’s excellently scripted and painfully honest monologue on depression makes for uncomfortable yet compelling viewing.

“Sometimes people just … break,” says Chris Gethard early on, after explaining that his longstanding issues of anxiety and depression don’t stem from any traumatic childhood experience.  The lights have darkened and his voice has slowed to a standstill.  His glasses near the end of his nose.  His head jerks nervously once, then twice.  “Welcome to a comedy show!”

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Category: Comedy
WOL Comedy Awards

What’s On London Comedy Awards 2016

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.

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Category: Comedy