We’re not quite ready for the summer of creativity to come to an end, so it’s time to see where we can catch these shows in the capital.
Get those diaries out, folks.
Jessica Fostekew: Hench
This has really been a big old year for Jessica Fostekew, who has been making her way up on the comedy scene for a few years now. Hench is her best show yet, where she talks about being called the word while working out and taking offence to it. She asks why, looking at the standards of body image and the trials of raising a “sexist toddler”. Nominated for best show at the Dave Edinburgh Comedy Awards, you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss it.
October 22-23, January 7-25, sohotheatre.com
Jordan Brookes: I’ve Got Nothing
This year’s Comedy Awards Winner Jordan Brookes is up on that stage unfiltered, unfettered and totally unprepared – or so he’d have you think. Brookes has always done things differently and is anything but predictable. Everything he says could be totally insignificant or incredibly important. If you’re looking for something that takes the comedy rulebook and sets fire to it, this is the show for you. Nica Burns, director of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, explained why he won: “Utterly unique, dubbed by some critics as the comic coup of the Fringe, there is literally no one like him.”
February 10-15, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Stand Up with Janine Harouni (Please Remain Seated)
What a debut this show is. New Yorker Janine Harouni is tackling a tricky subject. Her dad is a Trump supporter and the son of Middle-Eastern immigrants. In an attempt to reconcile these two things, Harouni presents a show about standing up for what you believe in and loving someone with completely different views to you. She was deservedly nominated for best newcomer at this year’s Comedy Awards.
October 7-12, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Joz Norris is Dead. Long Live Mr Fruit Salad
It’s a shame that Joz Norris would die just before he was given the Comedian’s Choice award at the Fringe. Luckily, his successor Mr Fruit Salad was there to collect the prize, and has taken over the stage in his stead. With a comedy beard, Norris’s character comedy show is ridiculous, but in truly the best possible way. And it comes with a singularly wonderful message: be kind.
September 18-21, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face
Last year, Jayde Adams was all pomp and circumstance. The sequins are gone – she’s a serious comedian now. Adams is rebranding herself as “successful independent woman” and wearing the uniform of many celebrities who reinvent themselves: the serious black jumper. At a time when everyone needs to have something to say (though they probably shouldn’t), she’s a clear voice in all the noise. Adams is recording the show as a special on Amazon Prime, so this is the chance to see her before she goes global. With her regular comedy night Amusical, alongside fellow comic Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, now a TV show, it’s only a matter of time!
Lou Sanders: Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy
Lou Sanders is always a delight. Following her win on Taskmaster, she’s got herself a new legion of fans. It’s not surprising; Sanders’s unguarded silliness is exactly what we need right now. Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy is an hour about family relationships, sex, love and the public’s response to her talking about her labia on national television. It’s every comedian’s dream to make 60 minutes that feels like 15 – no hour goes quicker than with Loulie.
October 28-November 9, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Suzi Ruffell: Dance Like Everyone’s Watching
Suzi Ruffell’s last show, Nocturnal, proved there’s a funny side to anxiety, but this year, she’s happy. She knows it’s annoying but she deserves it, damn it! This year, she got engaged, bought a flat, went to World Pride in New York and has decided to have a baby. She’s here to dispel the myth that comedians are at best when they’re miserable, and she does it brilliantly. The whole hour is a deftly crafted set from a master storyteller, who has been on the way up for long enough. Now, she’s one of the best.
February 24-29, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Desiree Burch: Desiree’s Coming Early
Former New Yorker Desiree Burch has a knack for storytelling – “near-perfect”, the Standard’s review called it. The show revolves around an anecdote about trying to get laid at Burning Man, where she goes on a spiritual journey to work out how the world has got to where it is today. The tale turns into a discussion about relationships, race and identity, as Burch attempts to fix the mess we have gotten ourselves into.
November 11-23, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Sophie Duker: Venus
Sophie Duker has absolutely smashed her Fringe solo debut with Venus. She was nominated for best newcomer, becoming the first ever British black woman to be in the running for the prize. Venus is a show about society’s fascination with “exotic” bodies and the fetishisation of black women. Two of these women are the 19th century “Hottentot Venus”, Saara Baartman and porn star Skin Diamond. Duker is well on the way to the top, according to the Standard’s review.
October 29-November 2, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Jen Brister: Under Privilege
Jen Brister’s covering a sticky subject in this new show: privilege. She knows she’s in a good position – relationship, kids, house, job – but that doesn’t mean she has nothing to say. Quite the opposite. Brister is so at ease, she compels the audience to follow her, through rage, passion and a really unbeatable takedown of Toby Young. She talks about her own family too, from her upbringing with a confrontational mother to her own mothering of two middle-class white boys.
February 10-15, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
100 Club: Pick of the Fringe
Suzi Ruffell and Sophie Duker are joined by 2019 Comedy Award nominee Ivo Graham with a taste of his show, The Game of Life, as well as Ahir Shah performing material from Dots, with tales about giving up and not giving up. More performers will be announced, but Pick of the Fringe always gets a cracking selection.
September 5, 100 Club, showandtelluk.com
Performance duo Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole travelled to Malta to prepare for two things: this show and leaving the EU. They went to drink rum with other Brits abroad, but got more than they bargained for and they are offloading it all in this experimental theatre show. The pair that make up Sh!t Theatre are back with a new show, following the success of DollyWould, and another excuse to get drunk on stage.
October 8-19, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Since U Been Gone
Teddy Lamb’s moving play about grief and growing up queer in the Noughties had Edinburgh audiences blubbing. The autobiographical monologue grapples with the loss of two friends and changing pronouns after coming out as trans non-binary. Set to an original score, Lamb performs a bold story about regret, love and reacquainting yourself with who you are.
November 19-20, Camden People’s Theatre, cptheatre.co.uk
“Baby Reindeer [is] a haunting, unsettling monologue about the nature of obsession,” wrote Veronica Lee in her five-star review of Richard Gadd’s debut play. After winning the Comedy Award two years ago, he showed he could turn his hand to drama with just as much skill. Baby Reindeer tells his own true story of a seemingly insignificant interaction with a stranger that has much wider ripples. In his words: “Sometimes as it was happening to me, I’d think, ‘I almost don’t believe it myself.’”
October 9-November 9, Bush Theatre, bushtheatre.co.uk
Lucy McCormick: Post Popular
Lucy McCormick’s last show Triple Threat subverted the telling of the nativity story in a brilliantly innovative way; with the help of two friends, she reenacted the birth of Jesus from the point of view of both Mary and the baby. For this year’s Fringe, she reunites with Samir Kennedy and Ted Rodgers in Post Popular to investigate power in all its forms.
December 3-14, Soho Theatre, sohotheatre.com
Travis Alabanza’s Burgerz is a one person show based on a transphobic incident. The artist, poet and theatre-maker tackles the treatment of trans people and the notion that everybody is performing in some way regardless of gender. Using audience participation in a completely novel way, Alabanza shows the importance of empathy, kindness and calling out violence.
November 29-December 1, Southbank Centre, southbankcentre.co.uk