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The Comedy Store

If you find yourself searching for great entertainment on a Sunday night in London, head for Leicester Square.
For while almost all of the West End theatres are closed on a Sunday, the perfect way to round off a weekend is to visit the Comedy Store.

A fixture on the London comedy scene since 1979, the Comedy Store was originally located above a strip club in Soho but moved to its present site on Oxendon Street just down from Leicester Square in 1993.

Five nights a week, the venue hosts stand-up comedy, and has helped launch the careers of the likes of Alexei Sayle, French & Saunders and Ben Elton. Just like tea at the Burj Al Arab – one of the finest Dubai Hotels – is the ‘thing’ to do when in the Emirate, if you want something typically British, then a healthy dose of sarcasm, cynicism and bucket loads of wit fits the bill perfectly – comedy is one of the things the British do well.

On Sundays and Wednesdays, though, the Comedy Store Players perform improv comedy. If it’s not something you’re familiar with, the nearest equivalent is the TV series Who’s Line Is It Anyway?

The group take suggestions from the audience and act out scenes on the spot, using different styles of theatre and music. Anything and everything goes, it is a real test of a comedians quick wit and speed of thought – with often hilarious results.

So if your weekend has been filled with visiting art galleries, dining in the best London restaurants, staying in the best London Hotels and shopping ‘til you dropped, why not finish it off by laughing yourself silly?

At one time, a leading member of the company was Mike Myers, who has gone on to make Hollywood blockbusters. But his former comedy partner, Neil Mullarkey, who has roles in most of Myers’ films, remains a leading light of the Comedy Store Players.

For the past couple of decades, Paul Merton has been one of the mainstays of the BBC show Have I Got News For You, displaying his comic skills in opposition to Ian Hislop. Most Sundays, however, see him lining up alongside five other comedians as one of the Players. Merton is an outstanding comedian with superb timing, but there are others in the group who give him a run for his money, including Lee Simpson, Andy Smart and Richard Vranch – the musician from the Whose Line Is It Anyway show.

If you get chance, go on a night when Josie Lawrence is appearing. She is one of the cleverest and most talented improv performers Britain has ever produced.

Shows start at 8pm on a Wednesday and Sunday, so there’s chance to make your choice of London restaurants at which to dine before heading off to the show.


Walks
A collection of walks in London.

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