London comedy 2020: The best stand-up shows to look forward to

Mo Gilligan: Daniel Hambury/@stellapicsltd
Mo Gilligan: Daniel Hambury/@stellapicsltd

Our comedy scene just keeps getting better every year, doesn’t it?

We’ve seen Hannah Gadsby and Tim Minchin back on the comedy horse and no shortage of promising newcomers in 2019. No doubt 2020 will give us even more gems.

Keep an eye out when it gets a little warmer for the big bulk of comedy shows to be announced, but we’ve gone in search of some of the best ones you can get your hands on right now.

Steve Martin & Martin Short: The Funniest Show in Town at the Moment

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Two titans of American comedy touch down on English soil for just two nights of their critically-acclaimed tour. Following on from An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life (which you can watch on Netflix), the two pals will romp about the Royal Albert Hall stage, roasting each other (lovingly) and treating us to their silly but subversive humour.

March 14-15, Royal Albert Hall,

Mo Gilligan: There’s Mo to Life

It really has been Mo Gilligan’s year: he became the host of his own late night show, The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan, and released his first comedy special on Netflix in 190 countries. Now, he’s taking his high energy stand-up on tour. Catch it before we lose him to America.

October 22-24, Eventim Apollo,

Olga Koch: If/Then

Olga Koch followed up her 2018 Edinburgh Comedy Award newcomer nomination with another smasher. If/Then sees her draw on her computer programming degree to tell a story of love and technology. It’s laugh after laugh with Koch, an expert at keeping the audience in the palm of her hand.

February 12-18, Soho Theatre,

Jen Brister: Under Privilege

(Idil Sukan)
(Idil Sukan)

After she pilloried the patriarchy in her last show, Jen Brister’s covering another sticky subject: privilege. She knows she’s in a good position – relationship, kids, house, job – but has a lot to say on the subject. Who has privilege and who doesn’t? And why does nobody want to admit to having any? With bits about Toby Young, her mother and her feelings about raising two middle-class white boys, Brister brings this irreverent, and always hilarious, conversation to the Soho Theatre.

February 10-15, Soho Theatre,

Jenny Bede: the Musical

Another comedian who’s not going to let their degree go to waste is Jenny Bede. She’s used her musical theatre training – combined with her time in a girlband – to write a masterpiece that’s sure to unseat Andrew Lloyd Webber from his throne. Actually, she’s written around 40 of them, and these are the highlights.

March 20-22, Vaults,

Igudesman & Joo

Enjoy some virtuoso tomfoolery as musical duo Igudesman & Joo come to the Royal Festival Hall. Having met aged 12 at the Yehudi Menuhin School of music, violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-ki Joo have merged sketch comedy and prodigious musical talent. This show dials it up to 11, as they’re joined by the London Philharmonic Orchestra to perform two of their shows, Clash of the Soloists and Big Nightmare Music.

March 4, Southbank Centre,

Shazia Mirza: Coconut

“What’s going on? Why is everyone fighting? And why do all the right-wing papers keep calling me up for answers every time there is a paedophile with the same skin colour as me?” After last year’s show about Trump, Brexit and the state of the world, Shazia Mirza is back asking the important questions in her show Coconut.

March 7, Southbank Centre,; June 8-13, Soho Theatre,

James McNicholas: The Boxer

(Idil Sukan)
(Idil Sukan)

James McNicholas’s PE teacher at school told him he was so unfit, he’d be dead by 23. Thanks in no way to this inspirational message, he’s still alive. Athleticism is in his blood though: his grandfather Terry Downes was world middleweight champion in 1961. Mixing stories of his granddad’s glory with his own autobiographical stand-up, this show emerged as one of the breakout greats of the 2019 Fringe, directed by fellow comedian Tom Parry (of Pappy’s fame, and who also has a brilliant show, Parryoke, at the Soho Theatre in March).

February 19-22, Soho Theatre,

Helen Bauer: Little Miss Baby Angel Face

Oh look, another comedy award best newcomer nominee at the Soho Theatre (they do get the best). Helen Bauer is in total command of a stage from the off. In Little Miss Baby Angel Face she tells us about her drama training – at the feet of her mother – and her pursuit of attention.

February 3-8, Soho Theatre,

Tez Ilyas: Populist

You’ll likely have seen a lot of Tez Ilyas on screens this year, alongside Guz Khan in the fantastic Man Like Mobeen, and fronting his own satirical programme The Tez O’Clock Show. His latest stand-up offering Populist sees the comedian bringing his silly and whip smart jokes to Leicester Square.

September 26, Leicester Square Theatre,