Laughter is the best medicine, so they say. Well, ‘besides medicine,’ as US comic Bo Burnham has correctly pointed out. But if there’s one thing better than having a good giggle, it’s knowing you’re helping a good cause by doing so.
That’s right, not only are London’s professional comedians a funny bunch, they’re a generous lot too, often giving up their time – for free – to provide some LOLs at various benefit gigs. Here are just a few picks of the charity comedy nights hitting London in the next couple of months.
Royal Comedy, Bloomsbury Theatre, Sat Feb 8
The cause: London’s Royal Free Hospital. Specifically, its complimentary therapy service.
The line-up: There’s no massive ‘ohmygodtheynormallyonlyplayarenas’ name here, but there’s a packed line-up of superb circuit talents, including Katherine Ryan, Sara Pascoe, Tom Rosenthal, James Acaster and Aisling Bea.
Fundraiser for Freightliners Farm, Union Chapel, Sun Feb 9
The cause: Islington’s much-loved Freightliners City Farm, to help keep it open in these belt-tightening times.
The line-up: It’s a star-filled bill, with Alan ‘Jonathan Creek’ Davies and Jimmy ‘honking laugh’ Carr sharing headliner duties and swearing in a church. Plus support from Kevin Eldon, Josh Widdicombe, Katherine Ryan and more.
Sex Appeal III: Mélange a Trois, Bloomsbury Theatre, Sat Feb 15
The cause: Sexual health charity Brook.
The line-up: All hale to the ale! Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, hosts this one, introducing ‘Live at the Apollo’ star Shappi Khorsandi, erudite wonder Robin Ince and loads more.
Running Joke 3, George IV, Sun Feb 23
The cause: All proceeds go to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The line-up: If you missed last year’s Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomer winner, John Kearns, at the Soho Theatre, you can catch him here. We highly recommend you do.
GQ Comedy Extravaganza, Hammersmith Apollo, Mon Mar 10
The cause: Nope, don’t worry, this gig isn’t raising funds for classy mag GQ. It’s just organised by them, as a benefit for Eaves – who help women who have experienced violence, trafficking or abuse.
The line-up: Wowsers McGowsers – it’s a stunner. [Deep breath] John Bishop, Russell Howard, Jennifer Saunders, Greg Davies, Milton Jones, Lee Mack, Omid Djalili, Russell Kane, Jason Byrne and MC James Mullinger (who also happens to be GQ‘s Comedy Editor). Don’t be surprised if some extra special guests turn up too. He’s a powerful man, that Mullinger.
Big Belly Laugh, Hackney Attic, Sat March 15
The cause: The Samaritans’ Waltham Forest branch gets a boost from this gig.
The line-up: A killer, slightly mad bill here, with Canadian loon Tony Law, brilliantly bizarre character comic Brian Gittins, ‘Man Down’ star Mike Wozniak, understated stand-up James Acaster and a rare spot from Steve Furst’s character creation Lenny Beige.
Teenage Cancer Trust – An Evening of Comedy, Royal Albert Hall, Tue Mar 25
The cause: You couldn’t guess from the title?
The line-up: Another glitzy humdinger. John Bishop helps out again, plus Micky Flanagan, Jason Manford, Patrick Kielty, Rob Beckett and Hal Cruttenden. Ben Williams