Us British are renowned for our sense of humour and despite the stereotypes (we are often viewed as enjoying sarcasm!) we generally appreciate the whole spectrum of comedic styles. If it’ll make us smile, we’re usually happy to watch!
But while English nationals and home students have a deep love for stand-up comedy, watching our comedians perform is a fantastic language resource for international students too. It can help you get a taste of our culture, introduces you to subtle language you may not yet have been exposed to and allows you to hear differences in regional accents and dialects. (Accent is the way we pronounce sounds, dialect is the words and idioms we use).
Manchester is fantastic for stand-up comedy and we regularly see big names and up-and-coming acts perform sell-out tours in our city. It’s an experience well worth experiencing during your time with us, so we’ve highlighted some of the comedy styles you can expect to see and where the best gigs take place in Manchester.
So what makes us British giggle? Do we like punch-lines, slap-stick or ‘blue’ (very rude!) comedy? The truth is we all have our favourite comedians and you may want to check a few of these styles out below on YouTube, they’re lots of fun and can help you with your English listening skills.
• Prop Comedy: Tommy Cooper (see image above)
The great Tommy Cooper passed away in 1984, however his original style of comedy will certainly not be forgotten amongst British comedy fans. If you are staying with a British family, ask them (especially the older generations!) about what he meant to British television, his use of props and magic tricks is only made more hilarious by his continuous laughter!
• Physical Comedy: Lee Evans (adult content)
Lee Evans is a giant amongst comedians and many Brits will categorically state he’s their favourite for his energetic, physical style of comedy. Evans is currently performing in London play Barking in Essex, so consider getting the train (2 hours from Manchester) to see him perform within the next couple of months.
• One-liners: Jimmy Carr (adult content)
You may have seen Jimmy on popular TV show, 8 Out of 10 Cats, but be warned if you go to see him live, he can be quite offensive and shocking!
A Typical Jimmy Carr one-liner: ‘The say the camera adds 10lb. Stop eating cameras!’
• Character Comedy: Alistair McGowan
Character comediennes or mimics make their audience laugh by impersonating famous people in exaggerated ways. Alistair McGowan is one of the most well known impressionists on the British comedy scene today.
• Deadpan comedy: Jack Dee, Jo Brand (adult content)
Deadpan comedy is characterised by comedians delivering their punch-lines with a completely straight face or maybe even putting on a grumpy persona when performing. Jack Dee is one of the most well known deadpan comedy performers.
• Observational Comedy: Jason Manford (adult content)
Observational comedy focuses on real life events and complaints, making this sort of comedy very popular with the general public. Our very own Mancunian Jason Manford is particularly good at delivering observational stand-up.
A small but intimate venue, the 02 Apollo is nestled on the outskirts of the city centre and regularly hosts popular stand-up shows and music gigs. The Apollo name is big in stand-up comedy thanks to the popular BBC One Show ‘Live at the Apollo’ (filmed at the Hammersmith Apollo in London). Comedy gigs are regular and don’t usually cost too much either, however it is certainly worth getting a taxi to the venue.
Formally the MEN arena, this is the real biggie for huge acts! From gigs held by the Arctic Monkeys to the really popular comedians, the cream of global talent always makes a pit stop at Manchester on any world tour! There’s some great acts coming up this winter and our very own Jason Manford (see above) will be performing there in early December!
Appreciate our pretty quay side and watch an extra-special show at Manchester’s popular Lowry. From plays to stand up, the Lowry manages to be vast yet intimate, meaning that you can watch hugely popular performances and still feel like there’s only a few people watching!
If hidden gems and new talent interest you more than the established comics, then the Frog and Bucket Comedy Club is a real find that showcases comedy several nights a week.
With much-loved local comedians and a packed Thursday-Sunday schedule, The Comedy Store is a must-see attraction for students coming to Manchester. While we can’t guarantee material won’t be a little crass and rude, for a really cheap evening out, you can’t beat the centrally located Comedy Store.
We hope that’s inspired you to enhance your language learning through comedy, trust us, we have such a rich variety of stand-up events in Manchester that we almost guarantee you’ll find a regular show or a British comedian to make you smile!