London plays host to some superb comedy nights of all varieties over Christmas, including a remarkable number of events at a pop-up Grotto in a former Lyons' Tea House. Here's our guide to the best comedy in the capital this Christmas.
Grotto @ The HoHo Theatre
An old tea room behind the Bank of England doesn't sound a typical venue for a raft of comedy gigs. But this is precisely what's happening in an empty building on Throgmorton Street. Repurposed as a comedy Grotto, The HoHo Theatre houses a formidable line-up of comedy heroes.
What's more, this HoHo season has been curated by comedy kingpin Bob Slayer, a man with a Midas touch that us mortals can only dream of. Recently, Slayer converted a retired double decker bus into one of the most exciting comedy hubs in Edinburgh.
There are many familiar names making appearances, but perhaps the most distinctive aspect of this year's Grotto is how it brings together some of the most promising solo comedians in the groups that they are also known for. Here's a selection box of the best:
Comedian's Cinema Club Do Frozen!
Film fanatic Eric Lampaert introduced this club as an improv show last year, and it quickly established a great reputation. A motley crew of comedians are tasked to perform entire films, usually with comically makeshift props. Now, it's the turn of Disney's Frozen to get the Cinema Club treatment.
Comedian's Cinema Club Do Frozen! plays on 5 December, 7.30pm, Tickets: £5 (see ticket link for details of a special double bill).
Weirdos For Christmas Number 1: An Alternative Panto
This is the one. Fresh from spoofing Only Fools and Horses and Harry Potter, The Weirdos Collective return for their third annual pantomime. This rum bunch relish any chance to bemuse an audience with their absurdist antics, but expect to see a fun kind of innovative theatre. All proceeds from the pantomime go to Great Ormond Street hospital.
Weirdos For Christmas Number 1 plays 8-11 December, 7.45pm. Tickets: £10.
Bearpit Podcast (Podcast)
Apparently broadcasting for Ipswich FM, the Bearpit Podcast is outlandish and spirited. Quirky characters and correspondents keep us up to date with the latest goings on in East Anglia, and entering this particular bearpit allows an audience to see some gifted and emerging comedians in one show.
The Bearpit Podcast plays on 7 December, 7pm. Tickets: £5.
Laugh Out London's Big Christmas Weekend For Shelter
Harry Hill and Stewart Lee lead the Friday night bill of Laugh Out London's spectacular line-up for this charity gig. Then, come Saturday there's double Edinburgh award winner John Kearns, and Robert Newman helping raise money for Shelter.
Laugh Out London's Big Christmas Weekend For Shelter plays on 18-19 December, 7pm, Tickets: £10.
Alternative Christmas Memorial Society
This is a comedy night where failure is noble and an audience are permitted certain heckles. Join creators Thom Tuck and John-Luke Roberts — and their guests — for a memorably inventive and anarchic evening.
ACMS plays on 20 December, 7pm. Tickets: £5.
See the full HoHo line-up. Find the venue at 27 Throgmorton Street EC2N 2AQ.
Beyond the Grotto
Christmas is the time of giving, and London has plenty more comedy gifts to unwrap at its permanent comedy venues. Here are a hat-trick of shows that caught our attention.
Josie Long’s Christmas Miracle
The eternally charming Josie Long blends the personal and the political and she's hosting a special show at Kings Place for an evening promising festive high-jinks.
Josie Long's Christmas Miracle plays at Kings Place, 90 York Way N1 9AG, 12 December, 8pm. Tickets: £14.50.
Massive Lazy Girls
For those in need of a sketch comedy fix, look no further than the gargantuan supergroup formed by Birthday Girls, Lazy Susan and Massive Dad. To defeat what evil these acts have joined forces for is as yet unclear, but rest assured this is weapon strength stuff.
Massive Lazy Girls play Soho Theatre, Dean Street W1D 3NE, on 14 December, 9.30pm, Tickets: £12.50/£10.
Tim Key: Father Slutmas
We don't always trust the descriptions advertising a show, but in this case we really can't top the text of the official blurb: "There'll be poems, sprouts, probably mulled wine, cloves, and other festive horseshit."
Tim Key: Father Slutmas plays Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JB, 16-19 December, 10.15pm, Tickets: £18/£16.