wed 19/06/2019

Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Frank Skinner, Leicester Square Theatre - mixing some acid with the charm

Veronica Lee

Frank Skinner walks onstage without introduction and a man in the audience gives him a friendly heckle by way of greeting. Skinner is straight on it, engaging him in a brief conversation; his responses are amiable enough but have a few barbs too.

Emily Atack, Clapham Grand review - I'm a Celebrity... star's first solo show

Veronica Lee

Most people know Emily Atack from The Inbetweeners, where she played Charlotte, the object of Will's desire. More recently, she found new fans as the runner-up on 2018's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Now she is performing in her first solo comedy show, Talk Thirty to Me.

Al Murray as the Pub Landlord, Embassy Theatre...

Veronica Lee

Al Murray's Pub Landlord character has been around since the mid-1990s. As such, it's a wonder that Murray has managed to reinvent the embittered,...

Ruby Wax, Brighton Festival 2019 review - how to...

Katie Colombus

Once the self proclaimed poster girl for mental illness, Ruby Wax has evolved her stand up act, because, as she puts it, “everyone has mental illness...

Andy Hamilton, Brighton Festival 2019 review -...

Thomas H Green

Taking place at the Theatre Royal, Andy Hamilton’s show is entitled An Evening with… rather than a straight stand-up and mainly consists of the...

Seann Walsh, Broadway, Letchworth Garden City review - Strictly's bad boy tells his story

Veronica Lee

Ramifications of being caught in a tabloid storm

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!


An eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, literature and spoken word could be yours with boutique hotel and exquisite meals included

Reginald D Hunter, Princes Hall Aldershot review - underpowered but the laughs come through

Veronica Lee

Controversialist in laid back-mood

Krater Comedy Club, Brighton Komedia 25th Birthday review - a south coast institution celebrates

Thomas H Green

A boisterous evening featuring comedians Dave Fulton, Tiff Stevenson and Glenn Wool

Mark Thomas, BAC review - impassioned polemic about the NHS

Veronica Lee

A love letter with a warning

Britney, Soho Theatre review - finding the funny in a brain tumour

Veronica Lee

Duo tell a true story with invention and verve

Tommy Tiernan, Shepherd's Bush Empire review - playful and poetic

Veronica Lee

Star of Derry Girls on sex, religion and politics

Angela Barnes, Blackheath Halls review - a pessimist turning the tables

Veronica Lee

From the personal to the political in gag-filled show

Aziz Ansari, Eventim Apollo review - show follows his #MeToo moment

Veronica Lee

US comic tackles race, politics and relationships

Mo Amer and Guz Khan, Leicester Square Theatre review - racism examined from both sides of the Atlantic

Veronica Lee

Energetic double bill feels like a hip-hop gig

Ed Gamble, The Stand review - amiable hour touching on personal issues

Veronica Lee

Opening show of 2019 Glasgow Comedy Festival

Lou Sanders, Soho Theatre review - shame put under the spotlight

Veronica Lee

Raw honesty, red faces

Sheeps, Soho Theatre review - sketch comedy with a touch of the surreal

Veronica Lee

Friendship, fake gurus and fun

Brighton Festival 2019 launches with Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Thomas H Green

The south-coast's arts extravaganza reveals its 2019 line-up

Adam Riches Is The Guy Who..., Drink, Shop & Do review - super-suave Lothario on the prowl

Veronica Lee

Immersive show examines male-female engagement in the #MeToo era

Lost Voice Guy, Soho Theatre review - Britain's Got Talent winner finds the funny in disability

Veronica Lee

Material moves easily between the political and the personal

Daniel Sloss, Leicester Square Theatre review - toxic masculinity examined

Veronica Lee

Male attitudes in the #MeToo age

James Acaster, Phoenix Theatre review - a masterclass in comedy

Veronica Lee

The stand-up's show is his most personal yet

Leicester Comedy Festival Gala Preview Show review - an entertaining mixed bag

Veronica Lee

Curtain-raiser to next month's offerings

The Catherine Tate Show Live, Wyndham's Theatre review - sketch show favourites on stage

Veronica Lee

Catchphrases galore and great fun from the queen of sketch comedy

Best of 2018: Comedy

Veronica Lee

Returning greats and a memorable newcomer

Hari Kondabolu, Soho Theatre review - from politics to papayas

Veronica Lee

US comic with an original take on all manner of things

Matt Forde, Purcell Room review - politics plus deft impressions

Veronica Lee

Astute state of the nation material from former Labour man

Dave Gorman, Royal Festival Hall review - PowerPoint king is back with bite

Veronica Lee

Fake news, domestic harmony and daytime TV

Footnote: a brief history of British comedy

British comedy has a honourable history, dating back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, through Shakespeare’s and Restoration plays to Victorian and Edwardian music hall and its offspring variety, and on to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, working-men’s clubs, 1980s alternative comedy, and today's hugely popular stand-up acts in stadiums seating up to 20,000 people.

In broadcast media, the immediate decades after the Second World War marked radio’s golden age for comedy, with shows such as ITMA, The Goons, Round the Horne and Beyond Our Ken. Many radio comedy shows transferred to even greater acclaim on television - such as Hancock’s Half Hour, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Knowing Me, Knowing You, The Day Today, Red Dwarf, The League of Gentlemen, Goodness Gracious Me and Little Britain.

In television, the 1970s and 1980s were the great age of British sitcom, when shows such as Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Rising Damp, Dad’s Army, Porridge, Yes, Minister, Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers and Blackadder. They were marked by great writing, acting and directing, although the time should also be noted for great British dross such as On the Buses and Love Thy Neighbour.

By the 1990s, British sitcom had developed into intelligent über-comedy, with shows such as Absolutely Fabulous and The Office making dark or off-kilter (although some would say bad taste) shows such as Drop the Dead Donkey, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners possible. In film, British comedy has had three great ages - silent movies (Charlie Chaplin being their star), Ealing comedies (Passport to Pimlico perhaps the best ever) and Carry On films. The first are in a long tradition of daft physical humour, the second mark the dry sophistication of much British humour, and the last the bawdiness that goes back to Chaucer.

The 2000s marked the resurgence of live comedy, with acts (including Jimmy Carr, Peter Kay and Russell Howard) honing their talents at successive Edinburgh Fringes and their resulting TV, stadium tour and DVD sales making millionaires of dozens of UK comics. Comedians cross readily from TV to stand-up to film to West End comedy theatre. The British comedy industry is now a huge and growing commercial business, with star comics such as Peter Kay and Michael McIntyre grossing tens of millions of pounds from arena tours, and attendances of up to 20,000 at venues across the UK.

Close Footnote

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

CD: Hot Chip - Bath Full of Ecstasy

19 years, seven albums and untold side projects into their career, Hot Chip have for the first time enlisted outside producers: Rodaidh McDonald...

Citysong, Soho Theatre review - big writing, big heart

Irish playwright Dylan Coburn Gray's new play won the Verity Bargate Award in 2017, and his reward is a fine production of this beautifully...

Years and Years, Series Finale, BBC One review - soggy endin...

As Russell T Davies’s doomsday odyssey reached its endgame...

Ackley Bridge, Series 3, Channel 4 review - we gotta get out...

In the Yorkshire town of Ackley Bridge, education is like...

Hansel and Gretel, ENO, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre...

Shoving a child-eating drag-queen witch into an oven can't be good for any kid's psyche. Director Timothy Sheader doesn't let us forget it in a...

Napoli, Brooklyn, Park Theatre review - lacking substance

According to their mother, Luda (played by Madeleine Worrall, pictured below), each of the three sisters (pictured top...

Blu-ray: Dazed and Confused

I’m sure there’s an anthropologist out there writing a thesis on American...

Goodyear, Chineke! Orchestra, Marshall, Symphony Hall, Birmi...

Having played their first concert just four years ago, the Chineke! Orchestra gave a rousing, exuberant performance for an...

Frank Skinner, Leicester Square Theatre - mixing some acid w...

Frank Skinner walks onstage without introduction...