Liverpool: the home of comedy

There is a long tradition of comedy in Liverpool, from the ‘Gagmasters’ who first inspired Sir Ken Dodd to pick up his tickling stick, through to the present day. Take a tour of the diverse comedy scene you can find in the city today, guided by one of its stars, comedian Sian Davies.

Article Featured Image

Liverpool regularly tops the polls as the funniest city in the country. Recent research has named scousers as the funniest people in the UK. Comedy feels like a natural part of life in the city, as if embedded in the very fabric of its streets and its people. 

Across the decades, comedy greats such as Ken Dodd, Jimmy Tarbuck, Alexei Sayle and Lily Savage found fame with their individual brands of scouse humour. On screen classics such as Letter to Brezhnev, Boys from the Blackstuff and even Brookside showed the world how Scousers never take themselves too seriously. Conveying hard hitting social issues with an element of tongue in cheek jocularity rarely seen elsewhere. 

In the modern age, Liverpool is still living up to its comedy pedigree.

Hot Water Comedy Club is regarded by many as the home of Liverpool comedy. Their social media presence, viral videos and podcast content have been at the forefront of the online shift in how comedy is consumed. They offer mainstream comedy shows, with a broad appeal and have created stars out of local acts like Paul Smith and Adam Rowe. Across town, Laughterhouse hosts weekend comedy nights at The Slaughterhouse along with flagship events at the Philharmonic Hall and open air shows at the iconic St Luke's bombed out church

The Slaughterhouse pub with promotional posters for comedy nights under a sign saying Laughterhouse
Laughterhouse comedy at the Slaughterhouse

However the Liverpool comedy scene is much more than the big clubs and the viral content. When you scratch the surface there are a wealth of smaller, more varied nights, quietly attracting their own audiences. Events that take place in theatres, bars, galleries and even churches across the city. Comedy is a broad and varied discipline and there really is something out there for everyone. 

For alternative comedy fans, there is a burgeoning scene of character comedy and clowning focused around The Arts Bar. You can also find irregular nights from cult favourite Top Joe at his Music Appreciation Social Séance (MASS) events. Billed as a night of curious variety like no other and featuring special guests from Liverpool’s weird and wonderful arts scene. Audiences are encouraged to come with an open mind and leave with a cup full of bewilderment.

The Royal Court is home to a particular brand of scouse humour. Gerry Linford and other local writers showcase their comedy plays focusing on people and places Scousers will connect with. This draws an audience who love local humour and revel at the in jokes. The theatre is also home to the Alternative Black Cabaret Showcase, a night which brings performers of colour from across the globe to Liverpool. Hosted by Che Burnley and featuring a variety of comedy and music acts.

Unity Theatre hosts plenty of touring comedy shows from TV stars such as Jayde Adams, Nabil Abdulrashid and Sophie Duker. It is also home to Comedy Queers, a night which prides itself on its inclusivity. Where LGBTQIA+ audiences and their allies can enjoy live comedy without feeling like their identity might be the next punchline. Recent headliners have included Bethany Black, Olga Koch, Josh Jones and Stephen Bailey.

Over at the Everyman, the downstairs studio is home to a monthly night of female comedy and spoken word. Fem de la Femme draws a fun and friendly crowd of warm hearted locals where rising stars of stand up share the bill with newer acts.  

Secret Circus host pop up events in various locations across the city, including Ullet Road Unitarian Church. They showcase the weird, the wild and the wonderful offering an eclectic mix of cabaret, burlesque, comedy, drag and circus acts.

Lovehearts style tube of sweets in a rainbow striped package with 'Comedy Queers' on the side, next to a sweet with a heart on and text 'How refreshing'

Iconic Liverpool drag cabaret and club night Eat Me and Preach feels like a dystopian secret society filled with club kids and creatives. Drag queens, kings and things take to the stage at themed shows featuring interactive games, fancy dress competitions and a debauched sense of fun. It's followed by a bespoke club night where the acts join the audience to dance the night away.

If you are looking for more family friendly entertainment Liverpool even has a comedy club for children. Funny Looking Kids at the Bluecoat is aimed at children aged 7+ who are able to bring along their adults to enjoy the chaos. Featuring jokes, sketches, quizzes and mayhem from a variety of acts, headed by expert storyteller and comedian Gav Cross. 

Liverpool is also home to The Comedy Trust, an organisation that delivers comedy workshops with the aim of creating happier, healthier people through the power of laughter and comedy. Offering bespoke comedy courses for young people, new mums and various other community groups across the city. 

Man standing in front of people sitting in pairs, the women at the front are interacting with him and laughing
Comedian Sam Avery delivering a well-being workshop at the Comedy Trust. © The Comedy Trust

With such a varied offering of shows and events, it really is only a matter of time before Liverpool is recognised as the rightful home of comedy.