The big comedy event of the year may be the Edinburgh fringe, but we get a sneak preview of it here in London as comedians hone their shows ahead of August. They might not be quite the finished article, but as summer draws closer it usually gets to the point where you can't tell the difference. Plus, these gigs are cheaper and more informal than 'proper' finished shows, and you often can pick up a couple of big names in one night. While you can hear 20 minute segments of new stuff at club nights all around town right now, here are places to catch the full length shows — in progress.
Pleasance Islington, Carpenters Mews N7
With a sibling venue in Edinburgh, it's no wonder the Pleasance goes all out for preview season. Right up until the beginning of August you can catch comedians and theatre; but as we're only interested in the funny here, we recommend you book quickly to catch Alan Davies (he will sell out), Gein's Family Giftshop, In Cahoots, Alex Edelman, The Pin and Tim Key. Tickets are a fiver per show, or buy three for £12.
Invisible Dot, 2 Northdown Street N1
Get two work in progress shows from the likes of Liam Williams, Bridget Christie, Mike Wozniak and Joseph Morpurgo, plus an interval burger, for £12 or £15 a night. BBQ previews run on Sundays from 7 June. Invisible Dot also plays host to lots of individual work in progress shows; take a look at the website for more details.
Museum of Comedy, The Undercroft, St George's Church, Bloomsbury
As befits the name, you can see lots of comedy at this unholy venue. Pick from The Last Leg's Josh Widdicombe, Pippa Evans on guilty pleasures, Beth Vyse, Stuart Goldsmith and loads more. Tickets £5-£10.
Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill SW11
There's a packed programme running 20 July-1 August in Battersea, with acts including Rob Auton, Katherine Ryan, Tom Price, Jenny Eclair and Simon Munnery doing final test runs. Tickets are £6-£10, some in double bills or some single show gigs.
Cutty Sark Studio Theatre, Greenwich SE10
Comedians performing inside the belly of the famous tea clipper between 24 July and 3 August include Mitch Benn, Sara Pascoe, Rob Beckett and Elvis McGonagall. Double bill tickets are £10-£12.50.
Laugh Out London: Camden, Stoke Newington, Angel, Brixton, Victoria Park
This regular club night, which has various 'home' venues, is already showcasing bursts of new material in short sets, but from 9 June will start to put on double bills of longer work in progress material. Catch Nish Kumar, Bridget Christie, Jessie Cave, Joe Lycett and others. Tickets £3-£5.
Happy Mondays, Amersham Arms SE14
This New Cross night is always good for new material but, like Laugh Out London, will be going longer form from 1 June — and bringing in some big names. It's not every day you get to see Ed Byrne, Reginald D Hunter, Marcus Brigstocke and Mark Steel (among others) for just a fiver.
Good Ship Comedy, Kilburn High Road
You can see comedy here every Monday as a matter of course, but from 2 July there'll be Edinburgh previews on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for Dane Baptiste, Bec Hill, Aisling Bea, John-Luke Roberts, Jessica Fostekew, Paul Sinha and more. Tickets £5/£4.
Crack Comedy, Slug and Lettuce, County Hall
Alongside its usual club line-up in various venues, what is possibly comedy's most depressing-sounding venue (we're assured it has lovely views) is running double bill Edinburgh previews with people like Angela Barnes, Matt Forde, Carey Marx, Nathan Caton, Ed Aczel, Pete Firman and Bridget Christie (who is basically everywhere) right the way through til the Fringe. Tickets £10-£13.
Sometimes comedians put together their own preview runs and get their mates along. Sounds fine to us...
Chris Coltrane + friends, Carpenter's Arms, Seymour Place W1
Expect happy, friendly, lefty politics from Chris (who runs the monthly Lolitics night in Camden) and two other preview shows on 13 June, then 4, 11 and 18 July, all for free. Guest performers include Tiernan Douieb, Holly Burn, Eleanor Morton and Bec Hill.
Simon Caine + friends, The Blue Posts, Rupert Street W1
Simon's Edinburgh show will be called Buddhism and cats and doubtless contain punning. He also runs the podcast Ask The Industry, which is excellent and not just cos Londonist has been on it. Catch four free weekly previews from 27 June, with Joz Norris, Bec Hill, Abigoliah Schamaun and Miranda Kane joining for a night each.