The Top 50 Comedy Shows of 2023 - Mark Muldoon's Comedy Diary

Image shows left to right: Olga Koch, Paul Sinha, Ben Target, Julia Masli, Elf Lyons, Mat Ewins, Ahir Shah, Ed Byrne

At the end of last year comedian Jacob Hatton suggested on Twitter that we're currently living through a slightly unheralded golden era of British stand-up comedy.

The temptation is to go further. Is stand-up in the UK the best it's ever been? Can it similarly be argued that the British stand-up scene is the best in the world? Could it be possible that right here right now is the best stand-up comedy has ever been...?

Perhaps you disagree. You'd have a harder time, however, arguing that what's available now isn't extremely high quality. It's not just about pure calibre either: exploring stand-up in 2023 meant that there's now something for everyone. From globally successful storytellers to the wildest clowning shows health and safety legislation will permit. From comedians perfectly suited to the rough and tumble of lairy comedy clubs on a Friday night, to ones I'd strongly recommend to your 14 year-old niece.

Does that mean UK stand-up is in perfect health? Hardly. We've spoken plenty about how access to comedy for people from less fortunate backgrounds is not just hard, but getting harder. The opportunities for fantastic comedians to step up and gain mainstream attention on TV have also reduced considerably in recent years, which might help explain the aforementioned point about the scene's quality being unheralded. What it all means, though, is that you've got a huge amount of thrillingly talented people that perhaps aren't getting the career opportunities they should be.

The below list goes some way to evidencing that. 50 genuinely superb shows, from an artform operating at the height of its powers - topped by a career-best performance that tackled a challenging subject matter, but in a way that put the focus firmly on ensuring the jokes are as frequent and fantastic as possible.

Some of them debuted in 2022, but I didn't catch them until this year. Where possible to still see the actual show in question, you'll find a link.

Ali Brice

50. Ali Brice

Ali Brice: I tried to be funny, but you weren't looking, Soho Theatre

Watch on ITVX

Laura Ramoso

49. Laura Ramoso

Laura Ramoso: FRANCES, Soho Theatre


Dara O Briain

48. Dara O Briain

Dara O Briain: So... Where Were We?, Croydon Fairfield Halls

Watch an edited version on iPlayer

Josie Long

47. Josie Long

Josie Long: Re-Enchantment, Hackney Earth


Tom Lawrinson

46. Tom Lawrinson

Tom Lawrinson: Hubba Hubba, Underbelly Bristo Square

London dates in May

Image shows left to right: Lloyd Henning, Peter Sutton, Foxdog Studios

45. Foxdog Studios

Foxdog Studios: Robo Bingo, Underbelly Cowgate


Daniel Kitson

44. Daniel Kitson

Daniel Kitson: First Thing, Summerhall

Rhys James. Credit: Matt Crockett

43. Rhys James

Rhys James: Spilt Milk, Hackney Empire


Stuart Goldsmith. Credit: Jessica Newell

42. Stuart Goldsmith

Stuart Goldsmith: Spoilers, Monkey Barrel


Celya AB

41. Celya AB

Celya AB: Swimming, Soho Theatre


Janine Harouni

40. Janine Harouni

Janine Harouni: Man'oushe, Pleasance Courtyard

2024 dates

Daniel Kitson

39. Daniel Kitson

Daniel Kitson: TBBYGTAWIP (PA), The Bill Murray

Alfie Brown

38. Alfie Brown

Alfie Brown: Sensitive Man 2.0, Soho Theatre

Watch an earlier version on Amazon Prime

Police Cops The Musical. Image shows left to right: Melinda Orengo, Tom Roe, Zachary Hunt, Nathan Parkinson, Natassia Bustamante

37. Police Cops

Police Cops: The Musical, Southwark Playhouse


Adam Riches

36. Adam Riches

Adam Riches: The Beakington Town Hall Murders, Soho Theatre


Brown Girls Do It Too. Image shows left to right: Rubina Pabani, Poppy Jay

35. Brown Girls Do It Too

Brown Girls Do It Too: Mama Told Me Not To Come, Soho Theatre


Emmanuel Sonubi

34. Emmanuel Sonubi

Emmanuel Sonubi: Curriculum Vitae, Underbelly Bristo Square

Touring in 2024

Operation Mincemeat starring SpitLip

33. Operation Mincemeat

Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre

West End run continues

James Acaster

32. James Acaster

James Acaster: Hecklers Welcome, Wales Millennium Centre

Plenty of 2024 dates

Bill O'Neill

31. Bill O'Neill

Bill O'Neill: The Amazing Banana Brothers, Soho Theatre

January London run

Paul Foot

30. Paul Foot

Paul Foot: Dissolve, artsdepot, Finchley

Lots of tour dates left

Bridget Christie

29. Bridget Christie

Bridget Christie: Who Am I?, Cambridge Junction


Lorna Rose Treen

28. Lorna Rose Treen

Lorna Rose Treen: Skin Pigeon, Soho Theatre


Martin Urbano

27. Martin Urbano

Martin Urbano: Apology Comeback Tour, Pleasance Courtyard

London in January

Sara Barron

26. Sara Barron

Sara Barron: Hard Feelings, Soho Theatre


Nish Kumar

25. Nish Kumar

Nish Kumar: Work In Progress, ARGComFest

The Wrestling

24. The Wrestling

The Wrestling at Just for Laughs London

They've mentioned it'll be back at the 2024 festival

Ian Smith

23. Ian Smith

Ian Smith: Crushing, Monkey Barrel @ The Tron

UK tour from January

Kieran Hodgson

22. Kieran Hodgson

Kieran Hodgson: Big In Scotland, Soho Theatre

2024 UK tour

. Credit: Dylan Woodley

21. Stamptown

Stamptown, Pleasance Courtyard

London, LA and NYC in 2024

Alice Cockayne

20. Alice Cockayne

Alice Cockayne: I Showered Before I Came, Underbelly George Square


Amy Matthews. Amy Matthews

19. Amy Matthews

Amy Matthews: I Feel Like I'm Made Of Spiders, Monkey Barrel @ The Tron

UK dates in Feb/March

Ania Magliano. Credit: Rebecca Need-Menear

18. Ania Magliano

Ania Magliano: I Can't Believe You've Done This, Soho Theatre

Quite a big UK tour

Dan Rath

17. Dan Rath

Dan Rath: All Quiet Carriage Along The Inner Western Line, Underbelly Bristo Square


Shelf. Image shows from L to R: Rachel Watkeys Dowie, Ruby Clyde, Shelf

16. Shelf

Shelf: Teenage Men, The Voodoo Rooms

UK tour from February

Kate Berlant. Copyright: Stephanie Gonot

15. Kate Berlant

Kate Berlant: KATE, Soho Theatre

Los Angeles run, if you happen to be in the area

Springleaf. James Acaster

14. Springleaf

Springleaf: James Acaster and Nish Kumar, Just for Laughs London


Heidi Regan

13. Heidi Regan

Heidi Regan Gives Birth Live on Stage Every Night or Your Money Back, Soho Theatre


Paddy Young

12. Paddy Young

Paddy Young: Hungry, Horny, Scared, Soho Theatre

2024 UK tour

Rosie Jones

11. Rosie Jones

Rosie Jones: Triple Threat, Soho Theatre

Fairly extensive 2024 tour

Tom Ballard

10. Tom Ballard

Tom Ballard: It Is I, Soho Theatre


Helen Bauer

9. Helen Bauer

Helen Bauer: Grand Supreme Darling Princess, Soho Theatre

Manchester, Maidenhead, Norwich and London dates upcoming

Olga Koch

8. Olga Koch

Olga Koch: Prawn Cocktail, Soho Theatre

Touring from January

Ben Target

7. Ben Target

Ben Target: LORENZO, Soho Theatre


Elf Lyons

6. Elf Lyons

Elf Lyons: Raven, Leicester Square Theatre


Ahir Shah

5. Ahir Shah

Ahir Shah: Ends, Monkey Barrel

London in 2024

Paul Sinha

4. Paul Sinha

Paul Sinha: Once Sinha Lifetime, Comedy Store, London


Comedians' Choice Awards 2023. Julia Masli. Credit: Andrew Max Levy

3. Julia Masli

Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, Monkey Barrel

London, Cambridge, Bristol and Melbourne in 2024

Mat Ewins

2. Mat Ewins

Mat Ewins: Mr Tiktok, Monkey Barrel


Tragedy Plus Time. Ed Byrne. Credit: Roslyn Gaunt

1. Ed Byrne

Ed Byrne: Tragedy Plus Time, Assembly Rooms

Extensive 2024 tour

Read previous editions of this column

Mark Muldoon is also available on Instagram and Twitter, should you wish to argue that Rhys James should have been placed above Stuart Goldsmith etc.

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