Let’s put the cards on the table, shall we? The capital of the UK is an expensive place. The people who live here know it, and you, beautiful traveller (hi!), also know it. You’ve gasped in shock when booking your hostel bed or hotel room (if you can afford a hotel room in London, we should talk more…). You’ve felt the pinch when you jump on the tube and your Oyster card gets debited an eye-watering amount of pounds. You’ve reeled back when buying tickets to the theatre, exhibition, festival or concert you came here for in the first place. It’s just a fact. While it’s worth every penny (sure, I am biased), it makes one despair. How do you stretch your euro/dollar/yen/kroner/insert local currency here? Thankfully, some of us have done the research so you don’t have to. Here’s some FREE advice on FREE things to do on a FREE blog. AMAZING! All you need to do is simply keep reading and I will help you turn those tears of sadness into tears of joy. And what better place to cry with glee than at a comedy night?
I have personally hand-picked the following comedy clubs as my favourites. Having spent years in many pubs, clubs and converted double-decker buses (yup) and working in the industry, I like to think I am somewhat of an expert in the subject.
Good, I am glad you agree.
Without further ado, here are my TOP 3 FREE COMEDY VENUES IN LONDON IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER BECAUSE I LOVE THEM ALL EQUALLY AND I DON’T WANT TO MAKE ANY OF THEM FEEL BAD ABOUT BEING AT THE BOTTOM – A TOP 3 WAS HARD ENOUGH TO CONJURE UP, LEAVE ME ALONE.
The Bill Murray
Aptly named after one of comedy’s crème de la crème, The Bill Murray is a purpose-built venue set up by the awesome crew at Angel Comedy (see further below). Following a phenomenal Kickstarter campaign (which you can read about in detail here, also for FREE – you’re welcome: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/angel-comedy/angel-comedy-club/posts/1739494), the BM, as nobody calls it, opened its doors last year and has curated a stellar line-up ever since. Just wander in past the walls adorned by hand-painted portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor and their friends (not Bill Murray though, which is perplexing), grab a delicious pint with the money you saved by not having to buy a ticket and wait for the door to open to glorious, glorious comedy. Work-in-progress shows, Edinburgh Fringe previews, improv, post-Fringe runs and everything in between – The Bill Murray presents a roster of delightful names, often just asking for a mere donation at the end of the show (yes, alright, maybe I should change the name of the post to Top 3 Free Comedy Venues Where The Acts Sometimes Ask For A Coin Or Two In Exchange For Some Quality Jokes. It’s just not as catchy and it’s too bloody long!). With multiple double and sometimes triple bills on the go, give yourself a little treat and try out London’s latest giggle factory. Click below to check out the coming weeks’ comedians:
Angel Comedy at the Camden Head
Free Comedy SEVEN NIGHTS A WEEK. Need I say more? From the same people who brought you the BM (I can hear Regina George in my head already…) is their long-standing ABSOLUTELY FREE THIS TIME (alright, donations encouraged…) strand at the Camden Head. Start your evening with a look around the beautiful pub, consider grabbing a pint of Punk IPA, find out it costs more than a farm in Wales, frown at the bar tender, ask for some tap water with a slice of lemon and ice because you can, and form an orderly queue behind every other traveller and local who’s come to the pub. You’ll be given a number written with a Sharpie on your hand because it looks cool (and helps with controlling the myriad of punters for health and safety reasons), then skip on upstairs to the comedy room and enjoy some lols, usually hosted by the incomparable Barry Ferns, founder of Angel Comedy.
P.S. Please note the venue is different to that of the Camden Comedy Club (see further below), which is also named Camden Head. This one is in Angel. Londoners clearly like to screw with tourists. On their behalf, I am eternally sorry.
Top Secret Comedy Club
As we rock up to the venue for the first time, my friend and comedy club virgin asks, dubiously: “Are you… Are you sure this is it?”
“Of course I am sure!”
“Louise, I don’t know about this…”
We are stood outside a dingy looking café, in the pitch-black darkness of a typical London winter evening, across from a lively pub that looks more fit for purpose than where we’re about to descend. Eventually, after some persuasion and the promise of a free drink – yeah right – we skip on down to what looks like Frank N. Furter’s cousin’s digs but is in fact a great comedy venue. Yeah, it’s grimy. Sure, the floor is a little sticky. It’s definitely a dark, dark place and I personally still find the presence of a ping-pong table confounding (not to mention the positively Transylvanian velvet curtain that separates the bar from the performance area) but despite this ‘charm’, Top Secret Comedy Club has played host to some of the absolute best names both from home and abroad. Trevor Noah, Russell Howard, Margaret Cho, Katherine Ryan, Romesh Ranganathan and Jack Whitehall are but some of the many surprise guests to have graced the stage at Top Secret. Hidden under the streets of London’s famous Theatreland district, a mere stone’s throw away from Covent Garden, it houses an epic amount of free nights – one particular fun highlight being the FREE Shoot From The Hip Tuesday night improv troupe. Luke, Tom, Sam and Alex approach improv in a light-hearted and accessible way, thus melting any improv-sceptic’s heart and making them lol in the process. Don’t miss out, reserve a free spot here: