Sydney loves to laugh and there’s nothing like the feeling of being swept away with the giggling crowd. From grand concert halls to cosy pubs and buzzy bars, you can catch a comedy show every night of the week. Watch international headline acts, local up and comers, or absolute beginners testing out new material.
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Big name laughs
The Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House is the most famous performance space in the country and it has played host to some of the biggest names in comedy. Hannah Gadsby even filmed her Netflix special Nanette here in 2017. Check the event listings for regular comedy shows featuring some of the best in the business. The House’s smaller stages, like the Playhouse and Drama Theatre, are also popular venues for comedy shows.
Big names like Iliza Shlesinger, Rob Brydon and Jimmy Carr are regulars on stage at the State Theatre. The Enmore Theatre is a favourite of international comedians looking for a more intimate venue. For local comedians, it also runs the Enmore Comedy Club with gigs split between the Enmore Theatre and the indie Factory Theatre in nearby Marrickville.
Every April and May, the Sydney Comedy Festival takes over the city with shows from more than 150 comedians from Australia and around the world. There’s everything from glamorous gala events at the Sydney Opera House to sketch comedy at your local pub and even special events for kids. After its run in Sydney, the festival takes to the road with hundreds of shows all across the state.
It’s all comedy, all the time at the city’s small crop of dedicated comedy clubs. The acts change regularly, but you can expect three or four comedians to perform sets in each show, along with an amusing MC who pulls the whole night together. These cosy clubs will generally have lots of small tables set up for the audience (rather than theatre seating), with the drinks flowing and a laid-back atmosphere. Try The Comedy Store in Moore Park, Kings Cross Comedy Club by the Happy Endings team and Sydney Comedy Club at Riverside Theatre Parramatta.
Pub comedy & open mic nights
Most comedians get their start at pub comedy nights, trying out their jokes on a small crowd with a beer in hand. These nights are relaxed with lots of short sets one after the other, so you’re bound to find someone who tickles your funny bone. Open mic nights are similar, but budding comedians put their name down on the night for their chance to get up on stage.
Some of Sydney’s best pub comedy and open mic nights include:
- Rat Klub at Moshpit Bar in Newtown, Monday nights
- Harry’s Comedy at Hotel Harry in Surry Hills, Monday nights
- Magic Mic at the Potts Point Hotel, Wednesday nights
- Stand OUT Comedy at Chippo Hotel in Chippendale, Wednesday nights
- Joke Off Comedy at Kelly’s on King in Newtown, Wednesday nights
- Comedy on Edge at the Newtown Hotel, Thursday nights
- Crown Comedy at The Louis Hotel in Lewisham, Thursday nights
- Yeah the Girls (all female line up) at the Chippo Hotel in Chippendale, Sunday nights
Stand-up comedy classes
Think you’ve got what it takes to get the audience rolling in the aisles? Before you step onstage at an open mic night, brush up on your technique and learn some tips from experienced comedians at one of Sydney’s stand-up comedy classes. They will teach you the basics of improv, sketch and stand-up, and help you make your comedy dream a reality. Classes run regularly at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney Community College, Improv Theatre Sydney, Comedy in the Raw and Laugh Masters.