London: you've got to laugh or you'll cry. Luckily there are plenty of places to do the former. Here's our pick of the city's best comedy clubs.
Angel Comedy Club
There's comedy every single night of the week in the sweaty room above the Camden Head in Angel. They're great at putting on totally newbies alongside bedded-in comedians (these shows are so quick-fire it doesn't matter that they're hit and miss). Or if you're lucky you might catch someone big trying out a show that goes on to be an Edinburgh smash. Oh, and every show is free. Just make sure you arrive early — that room is sweaty for a reason.
Angel Comedy, The Camden Head, 2 Camden Passage, N1 8DY
The Invisible Dot
Never has the adage 'good things come in small packages' been so true. This wardrobe-sized venue near King's Cross packs in some of the country's best talent; regulars include Tim Key, Josie Long, Sheeps and Simon Amstell. If you fancy The Invisible Dot on a bigger scale, check out their monthly Live at the Chapel gigs, where you'll see the ilk of Bridget Christie and Nina Conti perform in sacred surroundings.
The Invisible Dot, 2 Northdown Street N1 9BG
The Bearcat Club
This pub club in the leafy Twickenham suburbs seems an odd place to host comedy, but, by jove, they get some of the best names in the business. Household names who've performed here of late include Zoe Lyons, Pete Firmin and Jim Tavare, but the Bearcat makes plenty of room for fresh meat too. And the club gives you a life membership for just turning up.
The Bearcat Club, The Turk's Head, 28 Winchester Road, St Margaret's, Twickenham, TW1 1LF
Less comedy club, more three floors of world-class theatre, sketch and stand-up. If a comedian's got themselves a slot here they're doing very nicely for themselves, thank you very much. Of late we've been blown away by shows from Kieran Hodgson, Sofie Hagen and Alexis Dubus here. The trio of spaces (cabaret-style tables, auditorium and small, fringy upstairs room) means there's a space to suit all flavours of comedian. And there always seems to be comedy glitterati hanging around in the bar too. A very cool place.
Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, W1D 3NE
The Bedford bears an uncanny resemblance to the TARDIS. Behind that humble front bar is a warren of cavernous function rooms. The pub plays host two nights a week (Friday and Saturday), to Banana Cabaret, a cross between theatre and a Las Vegas club night i.e. a ruddy lot of fun. You half expect Tony Clifton to rear his podgy face at any moment. Next time you're stuck at Clapham Junction station due to a signal failure, you know where to go.
Banana Cabaret, The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HD
You have to go a bit 'Goodfellas' and wander through a pub to the converted warehouse out the back. But the setup obviously works — Headliners has been going strong since 2002. There's comedy every Friday and Saturday with a great line-up and a friendly atmosphere. One of Londonist's faves Jamali Maddix has played here on more than one occasion. They also have a new-act night once a month, so check out the fresh talent before they start filling out stadiums.
Headliners, 185 Chiswick High Road, W4 2DR
Up The Creek
This club in the heart of Maritime Greenwich has built itself a fine reputation, offering up sets from established acts (think Phil Nicol, Andrew Maxwell, Sam Simmons) and the gong-style 'Bat the Blackout' in which brave souls must attempt to make you laugh or otherwise face being booed off stage. Tough old business, stand-up.
Up The Creek, 302 Creek Road, Greenwich, SE10 9SW
Why wait for the weekend? There's top notch comedy at the 99 Club every day of the week. Even when they're big news, comedians continue to play here — of late the great James Acaster has been putting on something of a residency. Always good to sign up to their mailing list to get the last minute heads-up on their sooper-seekrit special guests too.
99 Club, Storm Nightclub, 28a Leicester Square, WC2H 7LE
The Comedy Tree
Thursdays and Saturdays are laughter days at the Comedy Tree. If you happen to be a student, you'll get in for the bargain price of £6 on Thursday too — not bad when you might end up watching the likes of Scott Capurro or Patrick Monahan. One thing we'd like to see more of from these guys though — female comics!
The Comedy Tree, Lala Lounge, 1 Black's Road, W6 9DT
Held in the spacious basement boudoir bar — part of the Phoenix pub around the corner from Oxford Street — Old Rope claims to "fire untested gold at you like you're purpose-bred lab-rats". What that means is you get brand new material, but from some rather awesome stand-ups. It's also home to Mitch Benn's monthly Distraction Club.
Old Rope, The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, W1G 0PP
Original article by Sid Rodrigues. Updated April 2016
Yes, we know — we missed out your favourite comedy club. Tell us what it is in the comments.