In comedy clubs, public houses and rural theatres all across the world, burgeoning comic talents are honing their material in front of tiny audiences. In these small venues, the comedic voices that go on to rule our evening TV listings are born. However, attending comedy nights like these is a very different experience of stand-up comedy than you’ll ever find on TV. As for the best emerging acts on the circuit currently, here’s our list of stand-up comedians to watch in 2018. Some are fresh faces, full of fiery, raw comic potential, others have been around longer but have recently hit new heights of exposure and acclaim.
1. Kiri Pritchard-McLean
It takes a smart, daring and incisive comic mind to build a full stand-up show around the experience of working with vulnerable children. Kiri Pritchard-McLean’s current show, Appropriate Adult, however, is a triumphant example of exactly that comic mind. Throughout her set, Pritchard-McLean is careful not to break her carefully considered ethical boundaries, and mines her humour from the correct targets.
As if her live show wasn’t bold enough, she also co-hosts a hilarious podcast all about serial killers. Naturally. ‘All Killa No Filla’ is well worth a listen. Pritchard-McLean also makes up one fourth of the acclaimed sketch group, Gein’s Family Giftshop.
Tour dates, and other info on Kiri Pritchard-McLean’s projects and podcasts can be found here.
2. Jordan Brookes
Jordan Brookes is one of the most original and unique stage presences we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing perform stand-up comedy for some time. Having in recent times supported the great Simon Munnery on tour, and had great success with a solo tour how of his own, Body of Work, Brookes has made himself one of the most exciting acts on the circuit. His electrifying shows are full of absurdist twists and extravagant turns. Brookes, it would appear, has set out to completely re-write the rules of stand-up comedy.
His work will not be for everyone, with it’s visceral, alienating delivery, however, everyone should give it a try. Of all the stand-up comedians to watch in 2018, Brookes will certainly be one you remember and find most unlike any others on the circuit right now.
Get more info on Brookes’ current projects and live dates here.
3. Alasdair Beckett-King
Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2017, Alasdair Beckett-King, has well and truly established himself as one of the stand-up comedians to watch in 2018. His work for BBC Radio comedy has also highlighted his supreme writing skills, as much as his live work has established his performative talents.
Beckett-King’s act consists of a perfect blend of warm, accessible material and sophisticated, idiosyncratic structures. This balancing act, so deftly executed, is what makes him so in demand right now. He also excels in covering topics that are genuinely niche and interesting, without allowing his audience to feel isolated.
Find out more about Beckett-King and his work here.
4. John Robins
On this list, John Robins is certainly the most established and celebrated act. He has been a comedian’s favourite for years and has had a loyal, small following of fans who have long understood what the current fuss is all about. His current show, however, The Darkness of Robins, has lifted his status to new, giddy heights. Not without good reason either. This show, a personal account of the breakdown of his relationship with fellow (excellent) comic Sara Pascoe, earned rave reviews. The hype ultimately culminated in Robins winning the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2017.
The subsequent, and ongoing, national tour of this show even includes a date at London’s iconic Hammersmith Apollo. Another huge factor in Robins’ rise is the massive success of the Radio X show and podcast that he presents every Saturday alongside fellow comic Elis James.
Don’t miss out on John Robins’ tour show or Radio X work by getting all the details here.
5. Abigoliah Schamaun
Abigoliah Schamaun is kicking off 2018 as part of the ‘Best of the Edinburgh Fest’ package show currently touring Australia. After that, she’ll return to ripping it up on the stand-up comedy circuit in the UK. Originally from New York, Schamaun has been carving out an excellent reputation UK shores in recent years. As the only comedian/yoga instructor out there, combining her passions on stage, she really is leading the way.
Do not, though, dismiss this aspect of her act as a gimmick. Abigoliah Schamaun also boasts some serious comedic chops. As well as being funny, her work is engaging, warm, open-hearted and life affirming. There’s obviously a lot of cynicism and anger in stand-up comedy. And that’s great. However, seeing someone with such an optimistic outlook who doesn’t lose on laughs is a refreshing sight, and makes Abigoliah Schmaun one of our stand-up comedians to watch in 2018.
Find out more about ‘The Goliah’ and her work here.
6. Eleanor Tiernan
From Dave Allen to Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan to Aisling Bea, Ireland has given the world a host of brilliant stand-up comedians. Eleanor Tiernan may well go down as the next name on that list. A better-known name in her homeland, Eleanor Tiernan is now beginning to make tracks in the UK. Her star is rising quickly and she is certainly one of the top stand-up comedians to watch in 2018. Her thought-provoking and original material, often covering feminist topics, has been successful in front of audiences around the world.
Find out more about Eleanor Tiernan, and her live dates, here.
7. Adele Cliff
What self-respecting list of stand-up comedians to watch in 2018 would be complete without the inclusion of a whip-smart one liner merchant? Adele Cliff precisely that. If you need proof, look no further than her successive inclusions on Dave’s Funniest Jokes of the Fringe lists in 2016 and 2017. These lists garner much attention each year, and have become regular haunts of puns belonging to the likes of Gary Delaney and Tim Vine.
A great one liner comic can be a joy to behold, and Adele Cliff’s seemingly endless reel of zingers is sure not to disappoint. Be it a laugh or a groan, they all count.
Keep up with Adele Cliff and her jokes on Twitter.
If you’ve never been to a comedy night at your nearest pub or comedy club then we can’t recommend it highly enough. You never know, you might see an act you’ll then spot on TV a few years down the line.