Just for Laughs London: 6 shows to see at the comedy festival this weekend, from Ryan Reynolds to Jordan Gray
Montreal’s legendary Just For Laughs festival is one of the most famous comedy gatherings in the world. And now, for the first time, it is coming to London. For four days in March the O2 complex in Greenwich will host a smorgasbord of events, showcasing Hollywood stars, new talent, club nights, podcasts and discussions.
Unlike the Canadian iteration, which is more of an industry affair (satirist Mark Thomas tells a story of trying to unwind in the hotel jacuzzi when a Hollywood tycoon splashed in and handed him his laminated business card), however, London’s JFL is well and truly an event for comedy fans.
With 28 shows taking place, this is literally an A to Z of comedy, from podcasting superstar Adam Buxton to high energy character comedian Zach Zucker. We’ve cherry picked six of the tastiest events below, but there is absolutely something for everyone. No laminated business card required.
Just for Laughs London, March 2-5; jfllondon.com
The Graham Norton Variety Show
Chat show host Norton turns compère for this spectacular. Forthright Katherine Ryan would be worth the ticket price alone but the guest list also includes offbeat anecdotalist Phil Wang, prankster Joe Lycett and Strictly star Jayde Adams. Plus Drag Race UK winner Danny Beard and full-throttle dynamo Bianca Del Rio. Eurovision runner-up Sam Ryder adds music.
O2 Arena, March 3, 8.30pm
Comic Relief – The Truth & Everything Except the Truth, hosted by Richard Curtis
Comic Relief co-founder Curtis lays bare the highs and lows of running the charity, which he launched in 1985. Since then, live shows and the BBC’s Red Nose Day have raised over £1.5 billion. Needless to say a major operation like this was never going to be all plain sailing and Curtis will be revealing some of the mishaps as well as sharing comic highlights.
Indigo at the O2, March 5, 4pm
Aisling Bea and Friends
Ireland’s Aisling Bea is best known for her acting roles in sitcom This Way Up and an ever-growing number of American projects but she first made her name as a stand-up and returns to joke mode hosting this bill with topical barbs from Nish Kumar, autobiographical hilarity from Suzi Ruffell and exuberant tales from Britain’s Got Talent finalist Nabil Abdulrashid.
Indigo at the O2, March 4, 8pm
Ryan Reynolds “Maximum Effort” moderated by Rob Delaney
Actor Reynolds brings a splash of Hollywood glitz to Just for Laughs with an in-conversation evening chaired by Catastrophe’s Rob Delaney, who worked with Reynolds on Deadpool 2. The star will be reflecting on his movie career, but what fans may want to hear most about is his co-ownership of Wrexham Football Club, which, as plot twists go, is a curveball nobody expected.
O2 Arena, March 4, 8.30pm
Jordan Gray’s Extrajordanary Cabaret
The breakout star of the Edinburgh Fringe 2022 made headlines with a full frontal performance on C4’s revived Friday Night Live. Gray is currently working on a sitcom but has to be seen in the flesh to be fully appreciated. Expect powerhouse songs as well as vivid stories about being transgender and married life in Essex.
Fortuna Spiegeltent, March 4, 9pm
This Edinburgh Fringe institution makes its London debut. Comedy duo Max and Ivan are the brains behind getting stand-ups to grunt and groan in the ring. Enjoy knockabout nonsense with punchlines as well as punch-ups, featuring Aisling Bea, Ed Gamble, Rosie Jones, Olga Koch, Matthew Crosby, Phil Wang, Suzi Ruffell, Alex Horne, Glenn Moore and Jordan Gray.
Indigo at the O2, March 5, 8pm
Just for Laughs London tickets, including a 4-day festival pass option, are on sale now from jfllondon.com