Opinion: Comedy Gigs of the Year 2015

Top Ten Comedy Gigs 2015

Well everybody is at it so I might as well join in. Here are my top ten comedy gigs of 2015. It was a tough list to compile and particularly tough to put into an order. Sometimes I just had to step back from being a critic and become a fan instead. Sometimes it was not just about structure, craft or content, I responded to shows emotionally. Other times I put the shows in because I simply laughed from start to finish. And yes there is a woman in my top ten. In fact there are two, so you can’t say the first one is a token woman.





10. Katherine Ryan – The Stand, Edinburgh

I wondered whether I should include this as people who take note of these things may remember that I only gave Ryan three stars when I saw Kathbum at the Edinburgh Fringe. Her inclusion then is also because this feels very much like Ryan’s year - she has gone up through the gears to become one of the most dynamic, audacious comics around. Also I remember being lukewarm about her previous show Glam Role Model at the start and that ended up being groundbreaking, so I expect the same of Kathbum when it tours in 2016.


9. Bryony Kimmings – Latitude

Is it comedy or is it art? Probably a bit of both, but this was definitely the year that Kimmings came of age with Fake It ’Til You Make It, a heartfelt, funny show about depression performed with her partner Tim Grayburn. Moving, silly and visually striking, often all at the same time, it nailed a subject that a lot of comedians have been tiptoeing around in recent years.


8. Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse – Eventim Apollo 

One for the nostalgia crowd of course, but this really was fun. It was not exactly one of those revival gigs where the performers roll away the years – in fact Enfield and Whitehouse could not stop referring to how ancient they were. It was also a gig that probably contained more fluffs and missed cues than the other nine gigs here put together. But like old musical hall veterans treading the boards one last time as Loadsamoney, Suit You, Tim Nice But Dim and more you couldn’t help but laugh as they grinned those wrinkly grins. 


7. Rob Delaney – Queen Elizabeth Hall 

I’ve just seen Delaney die a death on Celebrity Mastermind but it was his only bad gig of the year. He has been riding high on TV with two series of Catastrophe and as well as becoming a big TV name he visited with his stand-up show Meat. This is comedy at its most lean - a stripped-bare hour that somehow mixed crude vulgarity with a lot of heart. It doesn’t matter how graphic Delaney is about sex and the toilet, you still want to give him a big fat cuddle.


6. Sam Simmons – Soho Theatre

I’ve always enjoyed Simmons’ freewheeling lunacy but this time round there was a bit of context, which is always a good way to win over the critics and awards panels. Not that Simmons chose to talk about his troubled childhood to win prizes, he has clearly just reached the stage in his development where a bit more personal exposure works for him. Plenty of daft gags too, with food flying around the stage. And real verbal gags too. Simmons says that this show does not work every time, but it has certainly worked every time I have seen it. A worthy winner of the Foster’s Award.

See the top five here.

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