Recommended gigs for London open mic acts
Good gigs you can do as a relatively new act (regrettably London-centric)
If you want a comprehensive listing of all the open mics in London, go to London Standup Comedy Map. This isn’t that.
This is a list of gigs that you can do as a beginner open mic act that I would recommend and have done myself. I will try to update it periodically, but don’t rely on the information about locations, bringer requirements or how to book as it may be out of date.
Most of them are not bringers (where the acts are required to provide an audience)
Most of them tend to attract at least some real audience, so you won’t be playing just to comics and their friends/relatives
Just because a gig isn’t on this list, doesn’t mean I’m saying you shouldn’t do it. If you’re very new to comedy, pretty much any gig will help you improve (provided it’s not an ambush gig to a crowd of people who came to the pub to play pool and aren’t listening at all).
Angel Comedy RAW
A great show with a real crowd at the Camden Head, Angel. Only books every 3 months on 1st of March, June, September and December. See under I want to perform at Angel Comedy! here for details.
Mondays at The Victoria, Dalston. Booked via a Google form posted in Comedy Collective Facebook Group. Used to have an audience voting format (and was a bringer) but not any more.
Downstairs At The Kings Head
Thursdays at The Kings Head, Crouch End. You have to call them up on the phone and ask for a slot (details here), which means that fragile millennial/Gen Z acts are too scared to book, reducing competition. Chance of progression to other nights at the venue if you’re good enough (I’m not).
Lewis Schaffer’s Open Mic Night
Room above a pub in Borough. Find booking details on Facebook. Try to get through your material while Lewis interrupts with personal questions, asks you to explain any pop culture reference post-1979, and wrongly diagnoses you with diabetes. The night is followed by a free seminar on fringe theories of nutrition. Good for developing new material. I have looked into the allegations and they don’t seem credible. Chance of progression to Resonance FM guest.
Rats Open Mic
Tuesdays in Islington. Don’t be put off by the branding as “one of London’s worst open mic nights” - this serves to filter out acts who can’t take a joke. You can go on the night’s podcast which is recorded immediately after the show. Not a bringer but you get an extra minute onstage per person you bring. Contact Harry Deansway via social media for a spot. If you win the clap-off, you go through to the final to win a spot at an un-named pro night.
Comedy Lock-In (Kent)
This is in Faversham, 2 hours by train from Central London. Great night with a regular crowd and a bucket split to offset the train fare. Alternating Sundays. Contact Ribs Norman for a spot.
These are currently bringers but they also do enough promotion to attract additional audience, and are great nights to do.
Comedy in Your Eye
Great format where a giant eye watches you and judges your act. Books through Facebook.
Cuddles for Troubles
Booking details on Facebook. In the Trinity pub Borough.
Booked through Facebook. Rose & Crown, Kentish Town.
I wouldn’t even try to do a gong show until you’ve done enough normal gigs to seem confident on stage. On the other hand, I’ve seen much newer acts than me get through while I was gonged off, so - as always - take my advice with a pinch of salt. Don’t try to do anything too high concept - you want to have jokes jokes jokes with no filler. Take your best 10 minutes and boil it down to 5.
Thursdays, Up The Creek Greenwich. You get a two minute grace period before you can be gonged off, and you’re performing to real paying punters. Apparently if you can do well at this repeatedly they will consider putting you on at other nights (I’m not good enough). Also often have last-minute cancellation spots if you’re quick at replying to the email.
Ding Dong Gong Show
Sundays in Vauxhall. One minute grace period. The only gong show I have managed to get through so far. If you get through the gong they give you a spot in the week, and the best of the night gets a weekend spot.
If you’re comfortable with mean-spirited jokes (that are all in good fun), I would recommend doing Roast Battle UK at the Bill Murray. Friday nights at 11ish. It’s a real comedy crowd who are usually pretty drunk and up for some dark comedy.
The format is that you take turns to ‘roast’ (humorously insult) an opposing act. You will each provide facts about yourself ahead of time for the opponent to make fun of. You each do five jokes. After your opponent does a joke, you can do a rebuttal before your own joke, so this is an opportunity to practise being funny in the moment (or you can just write comebacks for likely topics/lines of attack).
You can apply with a partner or just ask them to pair you up. I’d recommend applying in a pair with someone you know initially.
You get £20 if you win your battle, and there’s an annual knockout tournament with a £500 prize.
I don’t know if doing this helps your comedy career in general but it’s a great gig to do once you get the hang of it. I wrote up an article with tips for doing roast battles.
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