The vibrant city of London boasts long and rich associations with stand-up comedy. Although the face of comedy has changed many times over the centuries, London remains one of the best places in the whole of the United Kingdom to catch live comedy performances. A large number of world famous comedians have performed in London, with many launching their careers in the comedy venues that can be found there.
Comedy first became popular in London in the 18th century, when it was performed in special music halls throughout the city. The style of comedy that was mainly performed during this time was largely slapstick, with comedians usually playing it safe and offering acts that were suitable for the whole family. Some of the best known comedians that emerged during this music hall era of comedy include Max Miller, Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd and Arthur Askey.
By the 1970s the music hall scene was practically dead. However, alternative comedy acts started to emerge around this time, with many comedians launching their careers in the Working Men’s Clubs and folk clubs of London. People such as Jasper Carrott transformed their musical acts into comedy acts, and this became a growing trend over the next decade or so.
The London comedy scene was so healthy in the 1980s that in 1983 Maria Kempinska launched the first Jongleurs Comedy Club. Despite being in direct competition with the Comedy Store London, both venues were able to attract large audiences virtually every night of the week.
These days the London comedy scene is extremely rich and diverse. Famous comedians can still be seen regularly in the largest comedy venues, while up and coming acts are hosted in a wide range of pubs, bars and clubs across the city. Both local and international comedians travel to London to perform before taking their acts onto the road, as London is viewed by many comedians as one of the best places in the world to try out new material.