The Edinburgh festival looms over the comedy scene like a big loomy thing. It means lots of comedians have new shows to preview before August – where are they gonna do that? Errr, how about London, and how about for cheap cheap cheap?!
For many comedians, the Edinburgh Festival is a love/hate figure. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. On one hand, by gum they have fun. On the other hand it nicks all their cash, strips them of all morale, and, except for a lucky few, delivers liver cirrhosis and irritable bowel syndrome instead of fame and fortune. Mind you, some comics would take the liver cirrhosis and irritable bowel syndrome over the fame and fortune.
Anyway, for London comedy fans, the festival means one beautiful thing – preview season!
From about now until the beginning of the festival in August, dozens of the capital’s comedy venues cast off all that five-comics-a-night, get-them-on-get-them-off business and give you just a couple of comics performing for about 50 minutes each. That’s right folks, something to get your teeth into.
Let’s do the math(s). A lot of shows up in Edinburgh cost about £12, whereas in preview season you often get two shows a night for about £8. So, £4 a show? Bargain!
There is a small compromise to make: and that’s that these shows aren’t finished articles yet. While some comics will have their show virtually off pat already, some will be scrabbling around onstage with pieces of paper like a pre-exam teenager. Some won’t even have started writing the sodding thing yet.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you get a Daniel Kitson or a Richard Herring, a John Gordillo or a Sarah Millican, the off-script banter about how the show is a work in progress can be frankly f*cking brilliant and the proverbial breath of fresh air.
Over the next 10 weeks, whatever shape these ‘shows’ take right now, they will be morphed, fleshed and pruned into an Official 50-Minute Edinburgh Show. It’s an exciting time to be a comedy fan in London, so get out there and take advantage of all the full-length performances swimming around the pubs and clubs.
It’s just like the real Edinburgh Festival, only without the scurvy.
So here are the venues showing Edinburgh previews between now and August. It’ll get updated regularly so keep checking back to see if your local gig has gone Edinburgh gaga: