Our guide to the best comedy venues in London where you can get your laughs for free
We all know that everything’s getting more expensive but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop enjoying ourselves. Instead, it’s about getting thrifty.
Luckily, London has dozens of venues where to can go and see live acts for free, so all you need to worry about is the travel and the drinks.
So if you have been looking to go and see some live comedy, but are keeping an eye on your pennies, too, we have you covered. Here are the best comedy nights in London which are completely free. And, further down the list, we’ve included some nights that cost just a couple of quid, too.
Angel Comedy Club bills itself as a community rather than a business – a community that was “created to make funny” rather than money. Now running for thirteen years, the club, which takes place at both Angel’s Bill Murray pub and The Camden Head (handily less than five minutes walk from each other) offers a range of comedy events, with at least one free event happening every night.
Between Monday to Thursday there’s a RAW comedy show, where you get to see acts at the beginning of their careers “doing their best to become the stars of tomorrow”. It’s not just a pitch: comedians that started out performing on these nights include James Acaster, Romesh Ranganathan, Tim Key, Nish Kumar and Aisling Bea.
There’s also free comedy across the weekends, so make sure you arrive early as “once it’s full, it’s full”.
The Camden Head, NW1 0LU; angelcomedy.co.uk
Comedy Bandits cemented its place as one of London’s top comedy nights after winning Best Open Mic Comedy Night in London at this year’s Chortle comedy awards. Happily, its popular shows take place every Wednesday and Thursday, when a mix of both new and established acts take the stage. If you’re keen to secure your spot you can reserve tickets online.
The Railway Tavern, SW4 7UR; via eventbrite
Comedy Under Siege
Set up by comedian Ashley Haden, Comedy Under Siege is billed as a night for comedy lovers where “you never know what will happen or what to expect”.
The idea is that five accomplished acts each get fifteen minutes to perform their new material. The show is a win-win for both sides: the audience gets to watch free comedy – which is most often absolutely brilliant – while comedians get to try their new stuff in an environment where people are not expecting a polished performance. So sit back, relax, and get ready for some jokes to absolutely bomb.
The next event is taking place on March 1, and Mark Thomas is headlining.
The Castle, E1 1LN; via Design My Night
Double Bubble Comedy
Monday nights are always a bit of a weird one, but The Victoria in Dalston has the perfect solution. At their Double Bubble Comedy nights, which take place every week, up-and-coming talent perform their material for free. The event’s hilarious MCs, who are there to keep everything running smoothly, have become so well-loved that it’s almost the case that people come to see them as much as the comedians.
But don’t just take our word for it, as the event has over one hundred positive reviews online, all of which say the same thing: you’re in for a great evening.
The Victoria, E8 3AS; www.jaguarshoes.com/events
Live Laugh Love LIVE
South Londoners, this one’s for you: every Thursday between 8pm to 10pm, the Grove House Tavern puts on a free comedy night. Don’t be put off by the cynical name and poster: it’s a well-loved evening, where a range of acts perform. Sometimes you might get lucky and stars will be pop up, and other times it’s newer comedians, who are also often brilliant.
Grove House Tavern, SE5 8RE; via Design My Night
Poster Comedy Club
Downstairs, below popular cocktail bar and Argentinian restaurant Poster Hauss, there’s a venue that hosts free comedy nights several evenings a week. This means you can make a night of it if you so wish: Argentine Empanadas followed by some laughs? What’s not to love?
For those who are looking for laughs before dinner, Poster Comedy Club also puts on some events in the afternoon over the weekend.
Poster Comedy Club, N16 7UY; via eventbrite
Sunday Shtick Comedy
Self-described as “a night of mirth and merriment”, Sunday Shtick Comedy is an open-mic event which means, as we all know, that the comedy is going to make you crease whether it’s good or bad. Rip-roaring fun and completely packed out, you can expect a mix of experienced and new acts showcasing their sets. And if you are super keen, and want to guarantee entry, you can reserve a seat from £1 via Design My Night.
Plus, there’s a second open-mic event, Pegasus Comedy, on a Monday, for those who can’t make it on Sunday. Another well-loved comedy evening, Pegasus has been running for over seven years, and found a new home at the Rose and Crown two years ago. Pegasus Comedy’s mantra is “I solemnly swear to do something brave, silly and new that almost certainly won’t work”. Well, you can’t say they didn’t warn you.
Rose and Crown, NW5 2SG; roseandcrownkentishtown.com/events
There are also some excellent comedy nights in London that cost around a fiver (or less) which we thought were very much worth including on this list.
Comedy in Your Eye
Every Tuesday and Wednesday at 7.45pm the Camden Eye pub puts on a popular comedy night for just £3.
Located in the perfect spot right on Camden high street, Comedy in Your Eye has hundreds of five-star reviews online and was nominated for a Time Out Love Local Award. Like many of the events on this list, it puts on a mix of well-known and newer acts, and there’s usually a fantastic MC who keeps the room’s buzz ticking over.
Camden Eye, NW1 9NX; comedyinyoureye.com
On Sunday evenings from 7pm, the Friendship Adventure Brewery & Taproom in Brixton puts on a comedy night with a fresh line-up weekly for £3. Plus, fantastically, the event is hosted by none other than the traitors UK Winner Hannah Byczkowski.
Friendship Adventure Brewery & Taproom, 245a Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8RR ; friendship-adventure.com/blogs/events
Happy Mondays Comedy
It’s there in the name: every Monday this New Cross pub is packed out with audiences getting a hit of endorphins setting them up for the week ahead. Tickets are £7, which is, admittedly, a few quid more expensive than we’d like for this list, but in return, you get to see some of London’s best comedy acts.
For example, this coming Monday has a line-up that includes Ian Smith, Olga Koch and Roman Harris – and last week’s included Flat & The Curves, Peter Rethinasamy and Pearse Egan. Perhaps this is the best-value comedy ticket in town?
Amersham Arms, SE14 6TY, theamershamarms.net/new-events
Soho Comedy Factory
The Blue Posts pub in the West End is host to the Soho Comedy Factory, a comedy night which costs £5 and which runs every Monday and Wednesday night. It’s a thrill to see who will turn up: usually there’s a real mix of new and more experienced comedians, and some acts that have performed have gone on to Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, ITV’s The Stand Up Sketch Show and more.
The Blue Posts, W1F 0QA; via Design My Night
Shakespeare Comedy Club
The Shakespeare at the Barbican’s popular comedy night costs just £3 on a Tuesday and Wednesday, when comedians try out their new material on the crowd. The Shakespeare is also one of London’s oldest pubs, which makes it a great spot for history buffs, too.
The Shakespeare, EC1M 7AA; via eventbrite
The LEGENDARY Comedy Try Out Night
This Crouch Hill event is speed-dating but for comedy with up to 16 acts performing for just five-minutes each. It makes for a wild ride as jokes have to be red hot to make an impact in such a small amount of time – there’s absolutely no chance of a warm up. Expect to see a mix of professionals and up-and-coming comedians. Tickets cost £5 in advance and £6 on the door.
Downstairs at the King’s Head, N8 8AA; downstairsatthekingshead.com
The Guinea Pig Club at The Boat Show
Over the last 22 years, The Boat Show has built a reputation as one of London’s best comedy venues. In the past acts that have played there include Michael McIntyre and Micky Flanagan and it still boasts a packed weekend line-up of excellent comedians. But, of course, you do have to pay for the privilege of seeing them perform.
However, The Boat Show puts on a Guinea Pig Club every Tuesday which is just £6. Audiences get to see some of the best comedians in town – as well as some of the newest – trying out their material. Even if the sets are not completely perfect yet you can be guaranteed to have a fun night. Plus The Boat Show is literally on a boat: it’s moored by Victoria Embankment.
Tattershall Castle, SW1A 2HR; boatshowcomedy.co.uk/gigs
This Is Not A Cult
This Is Not A Cult is just one of Camden Comedy Club’s many excellent events, but has built a reputation as being one of its best. For £4 audiences get to see “top oddball comics” trying out their material on Tuesday nights (which are usually put on once a month). “We think [it’s] deliberately named to put people off,” one reviewer put it succinctly.
Camden Head, NW1 0LU; listings.camdencomedyclub.com
Top and Bottom Comedy
The Book Club, now one of Shoreditch’s long-standing venues, continues to put on a wide range of events throughout the week. Top and Bottom Comedy, which bills itself as “London’s newest comedy night” costs £3, and is hosted by comedians Benjamin Lovell and actor and comic Alexander Pankhurst. It’s another night where acts will be trying out their new material, but as always, this leads to some serious laughs.
The Book Club, EC2A 4RH, wearetbc.com/whats-on