Christmas Comedy picks: Ho, ho, ho.

John Stansfield

The very best Christmas comedy in Manchester and Liverpool – or, how to have a laugh, while avoiding office parties…

The Christmas period is traditionally a jolly affair, filled with merriment and mirth-making aplenty. The very home of such jovial pursuits can, however, be a bit of a minefield during this festive time, as comedy clubs chase the office party buck down a dark alley of heckling and buffoonery. The result: shows that are only really to be enjoyed when accompanied by a skinful of Christmas-themed booze. Shows that are barely survived by the comics, who dread these intoxicated audiences.

Instead, we’ve rounded up a few top picks, which will hopefully avoid such pitfalls and make for a hilarious time without John from accounts taking his top off and causing a scene. Oh John.

Sam Simmons at XS Malarkey

Never one to suffer fools gladly, Manchester’s finest comedy club XS Malarkey has a solid line up of shows leading to Jesus’ Birthday. None more so than when Australian surrealist Sam Simmons takes to The Pub/Zoo stage with his flipcharts full of insane situations. Joining the multi-award winning antipodean tomorrow night will be Alfie Brown, Rob Rouse and Nina Gilligan, a fine round up for a festive affair. 9 December, XS Malarkey, Manchester. Tickets £5/£3 Conc.

Hayley’s House Party at Three Minute Theatre

Not content with being one of Manchester’s best comics, Hayley Ellis is also putting on one of the best shows of the festive season in the intimate surrounds of the Three Minute Theatre (situated on the ground floor of Afflecks). Hayley hosts and invites sketch phenomena Gein’s Family Giftshop (nominated for best newcomer at 2014 Edinburgh Comedy Awards), deadpan Liverpudlian Liam Bolton, gagsmith supremo Danny Sutcliffe and American in exile Kate McCabe. All this and music from Jess Kemp. Best house party ever. 14 December, Three Minute Theatre, Manchester. Tickets £4/£5 OTD.

Barbara Nice at The Dancehouse

Christmas time is a time for family, and everyone’s favourite comedy auntie Mrs Barbara Nice is having a Christmas Cracker. Finding fame as Phoenix Night’s Holy Mary, Mrs Nice has headlined across the country with spontaneous sets that are the never the same as the last – but always uproariously funny. Join Stockport’s most hilarious housewife as she makes it her mission to get you happy. She rarely fails. 19 & 20 December, The Dancehouse, Manchester. Tickets £12.

Shiny New Comedy Lab Christmas Special at The Lantern Theatre

Eclectic alternative comedy night Shiny New Comedy celebrates the best of the abstract comics at Liverpool’s disposal. Host Alastair Clark welcomes you into his world with the help of Helen Keeler, Mike Milling and Leebo Luby. A solid line up in itself, but the star at the top of this Christmas Treat is Sam Avery. The mastermind behind the recent success of the Liverpool Comedy Festival takes to the stage to offer up his wry observations on the world. One of Liverpool’s finest, surely due the recognition he so richly deserves. And it’s all absolutely free – Christmas is for giving after all. 10 December, The Lantern Theatre, Liverpool. Free.

Jason Manford at Liverpool Philharmonic

Laughterhouse comedy ups sticks from its usual home at The Slaughter House for a larger show at Liverpool Philharmonic. And, with the calibre of the act on stage, they will need the extra room for what will surely be a huge crowd. Jason Manford is joined by Hal Cruttenden, Terry Alderton, Paul Tonkinson, Tanyalee Davis and Neil Fitzmaurice in what could be one of the best comedy line-ups anywhere in the country. 12 December, Liverpool Philharmonic. Tickets £20-31.

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