This is one of the best known and most loved of the comedy clubs in London. Having been around for 28 years and showcasing some of the world’s hottest talent, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re expecting a grand venue that lives up to its big reputation then don’t – you’ll only be disappointed. Instead, you’ll find a surprisingly small club underground and down a quiet side street just off Haymarket. However, therein lies its charm – the Comedy Store doesn’t have any oversized ideas of grandeur. The walk down into the club is peppered with dozens of photos of the famous comics who have performed there – everyone from Robin Williams to Alexi Sayle. Inside, it’s a smoky (yes, even with the smoking ban there’s a thin veil of smoke by the stage – only this won’t make you go home smelling of stale cigarettes), comfortable club with a kitsch air reminiscent of the comedy clubs of old. There’s a separate bar and dining area in an American diner style, complete with neon Diner and Bar signs. But the most eye-catching area is, unsurprisingly, the stage. Just be sure to get there early though as seats are first-come, first-served and some are undoubtedly better than others.
It’s unfortunate that your immediate impression of this cool club is made by the bar and dining staff as you get the idea they are struggling comics themselves – only the closest they’ve ever come to getting on stage is cleaning it. Bordering on rude, you have to take their ‘funny’ jokes with a pinch of salt and not be offended. It’s about to get a whole lot better…
The atmosphere during a show is absolutely electric. The comics are world class. Check ahead of time to see who’s performing and what show is scheduled, but whichever day you go you’re guaranteed an excellent act. With a reputation like The Comedy Store has you know that comics are clamouring to get in and perform there. Experienced comics can judge the crowd perfectly and no two nights are ever the same. The night begins with nervous titters but after five minutes everyone’s guffawing unashamedly and the unfriendly nature of Londoners melts away to leave what we all knew was hidden underneath the fears of talking to strangers learnt from tube etiquette. You quickly forget the less-than-glamorous venue and the almost obnoxious staff and you know what The Comedy Store is all about – the comedy. And this cannot be faulted.
Food is available from the Diner. There are a few tables where you can eat but you can also take your food to your seat by the stage and eat while you watch – although there’s a risk of choking if you laugh mid-chew! The food is reasonable and there’s a fair selection. It’s all burgers, chips, wedges, falafel and kebabs so nothing mind-blowing but then who goes to the Comedy Store for a slap-up meal? It fills a hole nicely if you’ve not had time to eat between the end of work and the beginning of the show and it’s decent quality with large portion sizes.
Drinks are reasonably priced for the area – a bottle of beer averages at around £3.50 and a soft drink around £1.20. There’s not a huge selection but jugs of beer or bottles are a good option to take to your seat so you can keep the drink rolling in during the show without having to constantly get up – and risk drawing the attention of the eagle-eyed comics. There’s also a happy hour, and after the show they often cut the prices of drinks so you can stay after and keep on enjoying the happy atmosphere.
The Last Word
The Comedy Store may not meet all of your expectations in terms of the venue itself, but the comedy will more than exceed any preconceptions you might have. The added benefit is no two nights are ever the same, so you can go again and again for a reasonably priced night out of guaranteed merriment.