Welcome to the brand new Northern Soul Manchester comedy blog.
Outside of the capital (which apparently is down South somewhere) and the Edinburgh Fringe, Manchester has the biggest comedy scene in the country. From large-scale touring shows that pop up like clockwork, two dedicated comedy venues, award-winning regular weekly or monthly gigs, the quirky, the bizarre and the open mic nights where anyone can give it a go – it’s got it all.
Why oh why aren’t you including us, I hear the rest of the North cry. Well, we’ll get to you later…for the moment here’s what’s happening in February across Manchester’s legendary comedy scene. Enjoy.
25 Years of Reeves and Mortimer, O2 Apollo, Tue Feb 2, £29.50 – £35
Bob gets back in the surrealist saddle after his scary heart op and him and Vic reschedule their tour. What a hero.
XSMalarkey, Pub/Zoo, Tue Feb 2 (and every Tues), £3 members, £5 non members (£8 to join)
The long running weekly comedy club that has always guaranteed quality whether the acts are up and coming or established and doing compere Toby Hadoke a favour, and there’s always free rein given to those that like to experiment. This month’s line up is no exception – with his innovative Dark Room show – there’s John Robertson, comedy royalty Mark Watson, acclaimed sketch troupe Beasts and the very promising Fin Taylor.
Barking Tales, Zombie Shack, Wed Feb 3, £6/£5
The comedy night that takes a wry look at mental health. Harriet Dyer introduces comedians telling their stories, Chester comic Danny McLoughlin included. All proceeds to Manchester Mind.
Noise Next Door, The Comedy Store, Wed Feb 3 , £10/£7
The high energy improv team in a solo show for the Store. Of course the Store, along with the Frog and Bucket (see below), are the only dedicated comedy venues in the city. The rest of the time here find the regular stand up shows at the weekend, new material nights and amateur night King Gong.
Queer Contact 16, Contact Theatre, Thu 4 – Sat 13, various prices.
Contact sporadically include some fine comedy in their theatre programming but during Queer Contact 16 there’s loads – including Comedy Playground, solo shows from the likes of Debs Gatenby and the regular snazzy comedy/cabaret night Mother’s Ruin.
Fred’s Comedy Club, Fred’s Ale House, Thu Feb 4, £5
Levenshulme’s resident laugh night recently moved to a Thursday. With laid back Yorkshire man
Alun Cochrane and exuberant Stokie Jo D’Arcy. Andy Kind comperes.
Laugh Local, Chorlton Irish Club, Fri Feb 5, £12 (£10 conc)
Chorlton’s monthly comedy night with Portuguese sensation Philberto, Irishman Ciamh McDonnell the dark Kiri Pritchard McLean and MC Raymond Mearns.
Group Therapy, Gorilla, Sat Feb 6, Sun Feb 7, £20 and Tiger Lounge, Sun Feb 7, £8
In the couple of years its been running it’s built up one hell of a reputation, largely because organisers Ros Bell and Michael Clapham do it for the love of it. Here they’ve coaxed Johnny Vegas out of retirement – it’s going to be mega. Then the following day at GT2 there’s respected American comic Nick Thune at Tiger Lounge.
Bec Hill, Dancehouse Theatre, Sat Feb 6, £8
The Dancehouse always has a great line up of comedy shows, this one from Aussie Hill is no exception. In ‘Caught on Tape’ Hill explores her biggest regret.
Lettuce Laugh, Bowling Green Chorlton, Fri Feb 12, £7
The long running comedy club continues its return to the city’s scene. With new gigs Run by Jonathan Paylor. Plus look out for a line up at the Slug and Lettuce in Didsbury too though deets unavailable at time of going to press.
Tiff Stevenson, The Lowry, Sun Feb 7, £10-£12
The Lowry too play host to an unbelievable amount of comedy touring shows. Here’s the straight-talking Stephenson with her latest show ‘Made Man’ where she explores identity.
Daliso Chaponda, The Lowry, Mon Feb 8, £10/£12
The Malawian comedian takes a wry, and possibly slightly cynical, single man look at love in new show ‘Love Sucks’.
Trapdoor Comedy, The Railway Didsbury, Solomon’s Withington,The Spinning Top Stockport, The Old Monkey Manchester, Mon 8 – Wed 10 Feb, £3 – £5
Another quality comedy night in Manchester run by Tony Basnett with his series of gigs in West Didsbury, Withington, Stockport and Manchester City Centre. Performances by John Robertson and his Dark Room plus support from comedically musical Rob Deering amongst others.
Fat Virgins, Gullivers, Mon Feb 8, £4
The comedy night formerly known Quippodrome returns as Fat Virgins with Edwards, Evans, Hurst and Whiteley with their ‘filthy, queasy chuckles’ and support from Dan Nicholas.
Sham Bodie, Soup Kitchen, Thu Feb 11, £5
The eclectic comedy night introduced by Ben Tonge with comedy from Kiri Pritchard McLean and Tom Short, music from surf rockers Mirror Gorillas, and as it’s almost Valentine’s Day – Blind Date and the attempted set up some inappropriate love matches. Plus hot dogs.
Steve Hall, The Lowry, Sun Feb 14, £12
The third of We Are Klang who was always up for baring his bottom, Hall considers fatherhood in ‘Zebra’. It’s not a conventional take as you’d expect from a bottom barer.
MACE, Kosmonaut, Mon Feb 15, £5
Manchester’s Alternative Comedy Emporium run by Dead Cat’s Red Redmond continues monthly at Kosmonaut. Redmond comperes with Sully O’Sullivan, Jay Hampson and Sophie Willan.
Simon Evans, The Lowry, Wed Feb 17,£15-£17
Evans used to inhabit the comedy circuit as a self styled posh idiot issuing forth with statements that were as gleefully obnoxious as they were funny. Here he’s been immersing himself in economics just to share his findings with us.
Gein’s Family Gift Shop, The Lowry, Wed Feb 17, £12
The darkly twisted sketch troupe subject us to more mental images you’re not going to forget in a hurry. Let them show you their ‘Trophy Collection’. Can’t say we didn’t warn you.
Tim Fitzhigham, The Lowry, Thu Feb 18, £14
A sucker for a bad idea, Fitzhigham has sailed the Thames in a paper boat and the channel in a bath. In ‘The Gambler’ he resurrects some centuries old bets and gives them a go. And why not.
Phil Kay, Phil Ellis & Tom Little, The Dancehouse Theatre, Fri Feb 19, £10/£7
A double headliner night from Dead Cat Comedy with two mavericks of the comedy scene and both called Phil – Phil Kay and Phil Ellis. Frankly anything could happen. Tom Little attempts to stop it from getting out of hand.
Invisible Dot, Opera House, Fri Feb 19, £20 – £38
The canny comedy folk at Invisible Dot certainly know how to pick an innovative comedian/act to put on or produce having had a hand in at least one of the Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees at the Fringe for the past few years. So this showcase of their favourite acts is well worth checking out, not least because it includes a set from the magically mystical presence that is Paul Foot.
Richard Herring, The Lowry, Fri Feb 19, £18
A change of pace for the one time Stewart Lee partner. In ‘Happy Now?’ Herring explores his recent fatherhood, looks at happiness and how likely are those stalactites of wee to fall from the sky?
Tony Law, The Lowry, Sat Feb 20, £18
Oh we all love Mr Tony, the man with the ability to make you laugh just by throwing a beach ball about. Gloriously off the wall for years, now most people seem to get him too, ‘Frillemorphesis’ is sure to contain the usual measure of idiocy to downright genius.
Comedy Night, Antwerp Mansion, Sun Feb 21, Free.
The lovely crumbly former Belgian embassy in Rusholme reborn as a venue has a resident comedy night. This month head along to get a squeeze from loveable Geordie Patrick Monahan with support from Blackpool’s Ryan Gleeson and bomb disposal expert Steve Rimmer.
Comedy Course Showcase, Frog and Bucket, Sun Feb 21, £5
Manchester’s first dedicated comedy venue, like the Store (above) has plenty on this month with its weekend shows and amateur night (Monday’s Beat the Frog) and the continued return of the new material Work in Progress night on the 24th. This night, however, sees the culmination of the club’s inaugural comedy course.
Sarah Millican, O2 Apollo, Thu 25 – Sun 28 Feb, £25
This is something of a home town gig for Millican as she lived in Manchester for a while – from early in her career up until very recently. We first saw her in a competition over a decade ago and it’s safe to say one of those acts you can safely say was funny back then too.
Laughing Cows, The Frog and Bucket, Sun Feb 28, £10, £7
The long running all women monthly comedy club run by Hazel O’Keefe. Tonight with the chatty Suzy Bennett plus support from Marie Golbourne and Amy Vreeke.
By Marissa Burgess, Comedy Editor
If you would like your venue included in next month’s preview send us your links, blogs and press releases to firstname.lastname@example.org