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6° & PARTLY CLOUDY ON THURSDAY 20 JUNE IN SYDNEY
By Jack Gow
November 10, 2015
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The Ten Best Comedy Rooms in Sydney You Haven’t Heard of Yet

Find funny things in unexpected places.
By Jack Gow
November 10, 2015
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Ronny Chieng’s a correspondent for The Daily Show, Josh Thomas's Please Like Me got nominated for an International Emmy, and Sam Simmons won the most prestigious accolade in live comedy, the Edinburgh Comedy Award. So it’s safe to say Australian comedy is gaining a formidable international reputation. Before hitting the big time though, each of these acts honed their skills live in bars, pubs, and comedy clubs across our wide brown land.

And closer to home, local comedians are also experimenting, pushing boundaries, and putting on innovative work that might one day see them stepping out on to the world stage. Concrete Playground went to the coalface of comedy to bring you the ten best comedy rooms in Sydney you haven’t heard of yet.

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THE COMEDY LOUNGE

Arguably the best weekly comedy room in Sydney, The Comedy Lounge at Surry Hills' Cafe Lounge is fast becoming a comedy institution. Having recently rung in their fourth birthday, Monday nights at The Comedy Lounge are always enjoyable, and for just $10 – or $8 if you're a penny-pinching student – we can see why.

However, despite the consistent funnies being served up every Monday, it's Sunday nights that have recently been making a splash. On the Sabbath, Barry Award-nominated (that is, nominated for the best show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival) comedian John Conway hosts John Conway Tonight, an absurd deconstruction of a late-night TV show done live. Joined by regular collaborators and comedy young guns, Sam Campbell, Aaron Chen and Will Erimya, and boasting guests like The Chaser's Craig Reucassel, there truly is no other show like it in Sydney. Oh, and best of all — it's free.

If eccentric live pseudo-chat shows aren't your thing, stick to Mondays and you never know who might 'drop in'. Recent surprise appearances by Wil Anderson and Stephen K. Amos show that The Comedy Lounge is always worth checking out.

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WOLF COMEDY

Wolf Comedy is a monthly room held on the last Thursday of every month at Chippendale's best-kept secret, Knox Street Bar. Run by up-and-coming comedians Shubha Sivasubramanian, Kara Schlegl and Bish Marzook, as well as Gruen writer and creator of SBS Comedy's Backburner, James Colley, the motto of this room is, simply, 'be excellent to each other'.

What that means in practice is a fun, accepting room, committed to diversifying comedy (read: comedians who are not solely twenty-something white dudes), and encouraging new people to perform. If you're a comedy fan but think insult comedy is tedious machismo or you simply don't want to be picked on as an audience member, this is the room for you. However, before the neckbeards rise up and start chanting Political correctness has ruined comedy! Seth MacFarlane is a god!, don’t mistake pleasantness for dullness. This room is all killer, no filler, and tickets routinely sell out.

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COMEDY(ISH)

The brainchild of comedian Rhys Nicholson and triple j host Kyran Wheatley, Comedy(ish) is a night for new comedy from experienced comedians. Every iconic joke you can think of started off as a lump of coal, only to be relentlessly polished and refined into the comedic diamond that gets the laughs.

And this is the place to see it happen, and watch today's headliners writing tomorrow's punchlines. Also a decent bet for big name drop-ins; Reggie Watts stopped off unannounced at last month's show.

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FIRST TUESDAY COMEDY CLUB

The second offering from the Rhys Nicholson, Kyran Wheatley team at Giant Dwarf, this is classic New York-style stand-up comedy: an opener, feature set, and world-class headliner, emceed each month by one of the nation's finest talents.

You'll be hard pressed to find a higher quality selection of comedy anywhere in Australia — let alone Sydney. So get along on the first Tuesday of the month now, because this is going to be the next big thing.

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ROX COMEDY

The Roxbury Hotel has been synonymous with Sydney comedy for decades. So when the pub was taken over by new management a few years back, news that comedy would no longer have its ancestral home in Glebe was met with dismay and despondence. But, luckily, the dark days are over, with the launch of Rox Comedy every Wednesday night.

Run by Sydney comedy veteran Ray Badran and emerging talent Gerard McGeowan, each week this room boasts some of the best comedians in Australia. Having only launched a few months ago, this room is still hitting its stride — but expect big things.

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TENNIS IMPROV

Improvised comedy is going through something of a renaissance in Sydney at the moment, with The Bear Pack regularly selling out 300+ seat venues and Tennis Improv still serving up some of the best long-form improvisational comedy this city has to offer.

Formerly known as Full Body Contact No Love Tennis, the rebranded Tennis is back with a vengeance every second Tuesday at Glebe's Roxbury Hotel. It operates under the tutelage of the talented Kate Coates, Hayley Dinnison, and Fran Middleton.

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ENMORE COMEDY CLUB

Inspired by the success of the Sydney Comedy Festival's late-night showcase, The Festival Club, Enmore Comedy Club adopts the same formula: $15 (or $10 if you buy online) for world-class comedy in an intimate venue.

Held in the Enmore Theatre's newly refurbished wine bar every Tuesday, this night is run by the same crew behind The Comedy Store, which is widely-regarded as the best comedy room in Australia — if not the southern hemisphere. So expect top-shelf acts at bargain basement prices.

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EVELEIGH COMEDY

Previously one of the best free weekly rooms in town, hotel management issues recently forced Eveleigh Comedy to scale back to a monthly show. However, what may have been lost in regularity will be more than made up for in quality.

Hosted and produced by the prolific Daniel Muggleton on one Sunday night a month, this is always a laidback, super fun night. And if the gratis ticket price wasn't enough of an incentive, The Eveleigh Hotel is one of the inner west's hidden pub gems.

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green-lights-comedy-nights-sydney-top

GREEN LIGHTS COMEDY

Never been game enough to set foot inside The Gaelic Club, the Surry Hills drinking hole of questionable repute opposite Central? Neither had we — that is, until Green Lights Comedy set up shop on the top-floor of the Irish pub on the last Friday of every month.

Run by long-time friends and self-proclaimed 'adorable as ever MCs' Alexei Toliopoulos and Nikko Malyon, Green Lights has one of the best set-ups of any room in Sydney. To the right of the pokie-strewn façade, up some anonymous-looking stairs decorated with rugby league paraphernalia from a bygone era, past a table of possibly the last remaining (or certainly the oldest) card-carrying communists in Sydney, and through the green door, you'll find yourself in the little-known top bar of The Gaelic Club.

Green Lights feels like stepping into someone's living room, and the hosts emulate this warmth perfectly. If you feel like seeing decent comedy in a friendly, homey setting over a dirt-cheap pint of Kilkenny, look no further.

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DRAGON FRIENDS

As that sweaty, gamer dude with greasepaint dripping from his nose that you bumped into on the bus who was cosplaying Emperor Palpatine en route to Oz Comic-Con said: Let the nerd flow through youDespite sounding like one of the most horrendous pick-up lines of all time, he had a point. Nerd culture is inescapable, and unless you want to look back on a life haunted by the zeitgeist, it's time to get on board.

Dragon Friends is a Dungeons and Dragons game played live on stage by some of Sydney's best comedians. While that may sound niche, the kicker is that none of the comedians have played D&D — the cult tabletop fantasy role playing game — before. DM'd by Dave Harmon, the creator of Australia's largest real world zombie survival game, Zedtown, together with Story Club co-creator and regular Chaser collaborator, Ben Jenkins, are Dragon Friends. And it's silly, unashamedly nerdy, and utterly delightful.

The core cast of comedians/D&D newbies is compromised of triple j presenter and Good Game Well Played host, Michael Hing, BuzzFeed Australia's Alex Lee, national Theatresports champion Simon Greiner, and one third of the Axis of Awesome, Benny Davis. Having just performed at PAX Australia in Melbourne — where they were joined on stage by Lawrence Leung and none other than Senator Scott Ludlam — Dragon Friends won't be little known for long. If this piques your interest, you can catch up on the adventure so far via their podcast.

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Finally, if all of those suggestions left you unphased, and you’re looking for raw, experimental, genre-bending (and occasionally shambolic) comedy, check out Idiot Box on campus at the University of Sydney's Hermman’s Bar.

Images: From each venue, top image Giant Dwarf.

Published on November 10, 2015 by Jack Gow

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    Mason Hell-Cat - November 10, 2015

    Great suggestions thanks - will check them out. Also, I'm soon to launch Hell-Cat's Nyuck Nyuck Club to the GP - stay tuned.

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