Manchester has great heritage as a breeding ground for comic talent, with several of today’s most successful standup comedians having cut their teeth in the city’s comedy clubs.
Many budding comedians regard Manchester as the place to go to make their first forays into standup, and practise and hone their craft. The city also has a strong tradition of student comedy, with students putting on their own shows and forming sketch groups while at university.
The big comedy venues are The Comedy Store on Deansgate Locks, and The Frog and Bucket at the top of Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter. Both venues host big names as well as nights supporting emerging talent, while the Frog and Bucket is known nationally for its ‘Beat the Frog’ competition, where hopefuls must impress the audience or find themselves voted off stage.
Beyond the designated comedy clubs, however, Manchester has an exciting alternative comedy scene driven by committed DIY promoters, including XS Malarkey (in residence at The Pub/Zoo, near the student mecca of Oxford Road), Group Therapy (who put on monthly nights at Gorilla) and Sham Bodie (who operate a variety-style night of comedy, music, hot dogs and other shenanigans at Gullivers).
Manchester International Festival also introduced a comedy element to its programme for the first time in 2015, bringing in London-based promoters The Invisible Dot to curate a cabaret-style lineup featuring Adam Buxton, James Acaster, Natasia Demetriou and many more.