Father Christmas and his ho ho ho isn’t the only funny bugger about this month. As ever, December sees a fair amount of comedy in Manchester, from special festive shows to stand-up nights full of festive cheer and works parties. Elsewhere there are the regular gigs that form the scene’s backbone. Check this lot out.
The Comedy Store and Frog and Bucket from Thu 1
This, the most festive of months, is pretty feisty in the clubs as the Christmas parties take over the weekend stand-up shows at the Comedy Store and Frog and Bucket. It can be rowdy, but a lot of fun. If a quieter night is more your bag try these gigs out at the city’s two dedicated comedy venues.
At the Frog and Bucket Tue 6 Dec there’s an outing for Luisa Omielan’s incredibly successful show What Would Beyonce Do? Currently sold out but check for cancellations. The following Sunday (11 Dec) sees Bogan Bingo, where two throwback Aussies with mullets throw shapes while calling those balls. Wed 14 sees work-in-progress night WIP, Sun 18 is black comedy night Laff Til Ya Fart and the self explanatory Lip Sync follows on Tue 20. And of course every Monday is the amateur competition night Beat the Frog, plus there are the New Year shows at the end of the month – NOT New Year’s Eve on Fri 30 and New Year’s Eve on er…well Sat 31.
Over at the Comedy Store new comedy night King Gong is on Sun 4, new material New Stuff is on Sun 11 plus seasoned local comic Alex Boardman presents his choice of New Comedians on Sun 18. In addition there’s a special Christmas show from uber improvisers Noise Next Door on Mon 5 and veteran comedian Mick Miller introduces us to some of his funny friends on Wed 6. Plus there are plenty of stand-up shows during Christmas week if you want to escape more turkey and, of course, a big comedy party on New Year’s Eve.
Tommy Tiernan, The Lowry, Fri 2 Dec, £22 – £24
Huge in his native Ireland, but for some reason not half as big as he should be over here – despite his Perrier award win back in 1998. Catch him, he’s one of the best storytellers around – little short of magical.
Comedy @ Chorlton Irish Club, Fri 2 Dec, £12 /£10 adv
This month at Chorlton’s local gig MC Andre Vincent introduces the apparently effortless Justin Moorhouse, Wayne Deakin, and Eleanor Tiernan. Look out for an outing of Moorhouse’s solo show later in the month too.
Norris and Parker, The Dancehouse, Fri 2 & Sat 3 Dec, £8
This darkly humorous pair are slowly making something of a name for themselves with their runs in the Edinburgh garnering many nods. Check them out now while you can.
Group Therapy, Gorilla, Sat 3 Dec, £12
A Christmas Special from the GT lot and very special it is too. The bombastic, fearless Aussie John Robertson comperes (which will be a treat in itself) plus other-worldly ‘character’ comedian John Kearns and the morris dancing loving Pat Cahill. Plus support.
The Didsbury Comedy Club, Didsbury Cricket Club, £7 & The Heatons Comedy Evening, The Heatons Sports Club, £7.50, Sun 4 Dec
Take your pick, Didsbury or Heatons? With Tom Wrigglesworth and Mark Nelson appearing at both nights, whereas at Didsbury Lucy Thompson provides the support and Andrew Ryan is MC, and at The Heatons Anth Young supports and Justin Moorhouse emcees.
Desiree Burch, XSMalarkey, Tue 6 Dec, £5, £3 members
The first of only two outings for XS this month (sniff). But they’ll be good ones, kicking off with Burch – the American winner of Funny Women competition who took on Evolution at the Fringe this year.
The Worst Comedy Night in Salford, Kings Arms, Tue 6 & Tue 20 (Christmas party!) Dec, free
Like the Comedy Balloon below, this is the kind of gig where it all begins. Comedians aren’t hatched fully formed, there’s a lot of practise, fumbled punchlines and the occasional panic attack before you get there. Who knows who you’ll see an early gig from at the legend that is Dave Turquoise’s twice a month gig.
Marcus Brigstocke, The Lowry, Wed 7 Dec, £19
Why The Long Face? – he was born with it apparently. Over two decades Brigstocke has built up an impressive reputation as a performer and writer. Expect plenty of politics and a bit of cathartic moaning about being single.
Dead Cat’s Alternative Xmas, Sand Bar, Wed 7 Dec, Pay What You Want
An alternative festive offering from the Dead Cats. Trained clown Red Redmond introduces embittered divorcee Phil Ellis and the ‘tragic and useless’ Liam Pickford. This is what you want for Christmas.
Comedy Balloon, Wed 7 & 14 Dec (usually every Wednesday), Ape and Apple, free
In a previous incarnation it’s where Alan Carr did his first ever gig, but use this month to check out the grass roots of comedy. There’ll be some delightful oddballs, sparks of promise and some more established acts trying out some new stuff. All held together by the heroic Jason Cooke.
Paul Foot, The Lowry, Thu 8 Dec, £17
One thing that you can probably rely on in ‘Tis a Pity She’s A Piglet, there probably won’t be any piglets. But there will be absurdity by the bucket load from this master of nonsense.
Justin Moorhouse, The Lowry, Sun 11 Dec, £18
Gorton’s own charmer dispenses some common sense and, of course, very funny gags in People and Feelings.
Trapdoor Comedy, The Railway, Mon 12 Dec, £5; Solomons, Tue 13, £5; The Old Monkey, Wed 14, £3
The more dazzling than a Christmas tree Jonathan Mayor headlines each night of these three pre-Christmas Trapdoor gigs with support from Adam Rowe (The Railway), Dylan Gott (Solomons) and Daliso Chaponda (Old Monkey). Tony Basnett comperes.
Rich Hall, The Lowry, Mon 12 – Thu 15 Dec
The dry comedian and inspiration for Moe in The Simpsons dusts off his band once more for this fresh series of dates of music and comedy.
Phil Lucas, XSMalarkey, XSMalarkey, Tue 13 Dec, £5, £3 members
Second gig this December and the last of the year. XS finishes off with a visit from a delightfully silly man all the way from Brighton – Phil Lucas. Back in January.
25 Years of Reeves and Mortimer, O2 Apollo, Thu 15 Dec, £29.50 & £35
Continuing the Northern surrealists’ best of tour The Poignant Moments. Made even more poignant given that Bob almost didn’t make having had a triple heart bypass just before the start of the tour. Glorious off the wall nonsense.
Barbara Nice’s Christmas Cracker, The Dancehouse, Fri 16 Dec, £12
The Stockport mother-of-five, lover of a bargain and good old raffle brings her cracker of a Christmas show to the Dancehouse. Expect gentle audience participation, a tombola and mince pies. Don’t forget to team your leopard print with some tinsel.
Shappi Khorsandi, The Lowry, Sun 18 Dec, £14 – £18
Particularly pertinent right now given the current political climate, Khorsandi is celebrating the 40th anniversary of arriving in Britain from Iran with a love letter to her adopted country.
Sidekick Comedy, Upstairs at On Bar, Mon 19 Dec, £2 or free with student card
Last comedy fling before Christmas with compere Kate McCabe introducing Danny Sutcliffe, Peter Brush, Daniel Nicholas and Katherine Ferns.
No comedy today so you’ll have to make your own. If you can’t find any re-runs of Morecambe and Wise‘s Christmas specials to watch try making your own entertainment by wrapping up sprouts for the kids. It’ll be hilarious.
Off The Rails Comedy Club, Royal George, Tue 27 Dec, £10
Fed up of baubles and sprouts? Head up to Saddleworth for this. Unless you’re already up there, in which case pop to the pub and check out Paul McCaffrey, Troy Hawke, Amy Gledhill plus MC Mick Ferry.
And don’t forget the New Year gigs at the Frog and Store! (see above)