Top comedy acts are trying out their new shows in London before heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. Edinburgh previews in June and July are a great way to see established stars and up-and-coming acts in small venues and often at bargain prices.
Do bear in mind that previews are works in progress – lineups may change at late notice and some shows may not yet be finished (although this can result in additional laughs as a performer takes risks to test things out.)
Hen and Chickens
A stalwart choice for previews, the upstairs of the Hen and Chickens pub in Highbury is home to an intimate theatre. Among the previews, two Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominees from last year will be teaming up for a new sketch show – Totally Tom (23 July).
A stream of top acts will try material out at Pleasance in Islington, which has a sister venue in Edinburgh. Highlights include BBC Radio 1 DJ Tom Deacon (9-10 July) and the warm-up from Carl Donnelly (11 and 16 July), whose routine Different Gravy promises excerpts from his unpublished and hugely embellished autobiography.
Words Words Words at Off Broadway
Off Broadway bar in Hackney puts on its Words, Words, Words comedy night every Wednesday. One preview to see if you haven’t had the delight is Helen Arney, the geeky ukulele-playing lady who isn’t afraid to blend science with laughs in her show Voice of an Angle (18 July).
Downstairs at The King’s Head
Head to this friendly pub in Crouch End for a first look at gigs from the likes of Paul Sinha (31 July), who will tell the tale of his “horrifyingly misjudged” trip to the Himalayas last Christmas.
TOP PREVIEWS TO CATCH
Joe Lycett: Some Lycett Hot
Who? Lycett is one to watch after winning the Chortle Award for Best Newcomer 2010 and making it as a BBC Radio 2 New Comedy Award finalist last year. He has supported Jack Whitehall on tour and this is his debut show.
Where? Pleasance, Hen and Chickens, Crack Comedy Club, Camden Head and more.
Iain Stirling: Happy to be the clown?
Who? Another debut show from a rising star – Scottish Stirling is doing some self-analysis in his routine, to work out why he is such a clown. He’s also a presenter of the CBBC kids show Help! My Supply Teacher’s Magic.
Where? Pleasance and more.
Fran Moulds: Significant Human Error
Who? You might have heard Moulds on BBC Radio 4 as part of the all-female sketch troop the Umbrella Birds. Now she’s going it alone in her first solo show which sees her inhabit six original characters – such as base-jumping Aussie Ryan and Morgana, a celeb newspaper correspondent.
Where? Pleasance, Lost Theatre and more.
Do you have any tips for Edinburgh previews in London?