14 things to look forward to in comedy in 2014

John Robins 2013
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Fend off the January blues with 14 of comedy’s finest events and shows...

Max and Ivan, Luisa Omielan and more head underground

Such Small Portions is heading down to the Vault Festival underneath Waterloo to bring amazing acts to an amazing space. On Thursdays from January 30 we’ve got Sara Pascoe and Max and Ivan’s fantastic shows, plus the first chance to see the new shows from James Acaster and Luisa Omielan. Pick up your tickets sharpish, it’s a unique venue to see these shows. More information here!

The Musical Comedy Awards are back 

It’s the new year, which means new Musical Comedy Awards - starting on January 11, the heats start up at the awards’ new home at Camden’s Black Heart. 
The full list of 40 finalists is here, with Tom Taylor, David Elms, Tamar Broadbent, Trine Munk, Kate Lucas and Tracey Collins among them. Hills and Weedon and Jay Foreman are already down to perform at the heats so it’s worth getting in the diary now! (Basically just block out Saturday afternoons in your diary for the near future...)

John Kearns and the other newcomers are at the Soho Theatre

The Soho Theatre bring the Edinburgh best newcomer award nominees together every spring, and winner Kearns leads the pack from Monday 13 January. Kearns’ speech accepting his award last Edinburgh was a beautiful f--- off to lots in the industry who had previously ignored him. Well, he’s certainly got their attention, and an agent who is good with acts who function outside of normal parameters, so come and see his show. We’re dead curious to see what’s going to come next this year... (NEWCOMERS NOTE: It’s actually just Kearns, Aisling Bea, Liam Williams and Romesh Ranganathan who are on; Matt Okine did his back in September, although as he is now doing the breakfast show on Australia’s Triple J, that can probably be forgiven.) 

Tim Key also touches down, with Single White Slut

The Soho Theatre’s typically excellent programme has several highlights including Brett Goldstein’s Scenes of an Adult Nature (from 3 March) and John Robins' Where Is My Mind (from 28 January) , and fresh talent with Jamie Demetriou (from 20 January) and Ivo Graham (from 27 Feb). Top of the interest list, though, is the Invisible Dot’s flagship act Tim Key, who’s in situ from 25 February.

Isy Suttie is at the Pleasance from 9 January

...which would be of interest anyway, but we really wanted an excuse to include her amazing impressions of the rest of the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society. Jump to 4m 55s for the magic to start...

Actually you might as well stick around for the Pleasance’s amazing work in progress schedule

Is it our imagination or does the work in progress season seem to start earlier and last longer every year? Either way, the Pleasance have one heck of a schedule this year: Katherine Ryan, Tom Craine, Holly Burn, Ahir Shah, WitTank, Tim FitzHigham, Marcel Lucont and Mark Watson are among the most interesting names on offer over the next two months.

Channel Four have some new interesting shows, and two returning winners

The Mimic was something of a sleeper hit, finding a way to do impressions on TV in a way that was actually watchable; Toast of London gave Matt Berry a format that showcased him well for the first time, outside the IT Crowd, in quite a while. Now we can add Catastrophe into the mix: one of Channel 4’s new season of pilots, it brings Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney together to hopefully try and elicit more of the chemistry they found in a BBC online short last year. Horgan’s had a run of near misses so it would be great to see this one take off...

Film festivals ahoy, for both shorts and comedy flicks

The London Comedy Film Festival is back at the BFI, Hackney Picturehouse and more, running from 23 to 26 January. Films include Benny and Jolene with a cast drawn from Submarine and Fresh Meat, but the festival also makes a good fist at including foreign language films too (the festival’s programme director wrote for us on this very topic last year). The London Short Film Festival runs from 10 to 19 January and is likely to include some good comedy content too.

Mark Thomas continues his 100 Minor Acts of Dissent

Okay, so our theory about political comedy being the big trend of 2013’s comedy didn’t quite pan out (having been squarely gazumped by feminism), but Mark Thomas has been doing the rounds with his 100 Minor Acts of Dissent. He’s got until May to get all 100 acts done, so check in here to see how many he’s got done so far from 25 February. (Also at LSQ: Bill Bailey will be unplugged from 22 January...)

Cardinal Burns will, hopefully, come out of stasis

Last year in our 13 for 2013 list we noted that Cardinal Burns had been stuck in stasis but should be returning to our screens. 2014 has begun and we’re hoping it should be back imminently (this time on Channel 4 rather than E4, natch). Fingers crossed!

Someone (read: probably us) will end up writing a piece on how the BBC is overly-targeting demographics

The BBC’s new year comedy offering feels very keyed to specific age groups. For the elderly there’s Grey Mates, a sitcom starring Russ Abbot, June Whitfield, and various other refugees from Last of the Summer Wine. For the youths, BBC Three have Siblings, with Totally Tom’s Tom Stourton and Fresh Meat’s Oregon, Charlotte Ritchie. As if to hammer home that this is telly for young people, it’s made by Bwark, who did The Inbetweeners. Although this all feels like box ticking from the Beeb’s end, that’s a great pair to base a  show on, and the guest stars are mind-meltingly great: Stella Gonet, Tracy-Ann Oberman and James ‘So Money Supermarket’ Lance. 

Pilot ahoy for Linehan and a new show for the Twenty Twelve crew

Some slightly more tentative Graham Linehan has been working with Diet of Worms on a script for ITV: The Walshes. You can see the sketch that the show is based on above. Meanwhile a new show on the BBC is on the way from the team behind Twenty Twelve, with Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes’ characters both joining the corporation. It’s been commissioned by (relative) newbie comedy commissioning chief Shane Allen, and as long as they can find something fresh to say about Beeb bureaucracy, could well be a winner.

More Mid Morning Matters for Sky

If you were worried that Alpha Papa marked the 20-year culmination of the development of Alan Partridge, then fear not (so long as you have Sky). Having started life as a series of shorts for Foster’s series of web shorts, Mid Morning Matters second series is being commissioned directly by Sky Atlantic. Fingers crossed for a return of Tim Key’s hapless sidekick...

XFM is the comedy station du jour

With Josh Widdicombe having firmly got his feet under the table on Saturday mornings at XFM, the station is now having a look at Sunday evening comedy. First up are the tremendous Elis James and John Robins, so tune in from 8pm...
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These look to be some great shows that I will be watching!

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