January Comedy Picks: A Happy New Year

John Stansfield
Photo of the XS Malarky stage

The very best New Year comedy in Manchester and Liverpool. Or, how to survive the January blues.

Silky at The Railway Inn

Recently included in the City Life Award nominations for best comedy club after only a year in existence (and rightly so), Trapdoor Comedy has gathered quite a reputation for booking some of the biggest acts and putting them on in the more unconventional of places – this time, it’s the turn of ace traditional pub The Railway Pub just off Burton Road. Sectioned off behind a curtain at the back will be this month’s headliner; the wonderful Silky, a Liverpudlian exile who amazes with his verbal and musical dexterity. 12 January, The Railway Inn, West Didsbury. Tickets £5.

Phil Ellis at XS Malarkey

Forever on the cusp of being a great comic, Phil Ellis seemingly had his breakthrough year in 2014 as he walked away with the panel prize at the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy awards, and had a successful run at London’s Soho Theatre with his kids show that’s not really that much for kids, “Funz and Gamez”. Here Ellis will be peddling his own inimitable brand of stand up to the XS Malarkey crowd, who will also be treated to the misanthropic delights of Michael J Dolan. 20 January, XS Malarkey Comedy Club, Manchester. Tickets £5/£3 members.

Joke Thieves at The Lowry

Putting Frank Carson’s infamous words “It’s the way I tell ‘em” to the test, Joke Thieves has comedians attempt to tell their fellow performer’s sets. Earning rave reviews at 2014’s Fringe this is the show that proves how difficult it can be to be a stand up. Even for other stand ups. It’s like a comedian’s private joke that every one in the audience is in on. 21 January, The Lowry, Salford Quays. Tickets £12.

Crap Battles at Holiday Inn

Liverpool’s comedy scene also goes to war at Hot Water Comedy Club’s Crap Battles (I.e. Comedian Rap Battles). This second instalment sees some new challengers and a rematch that’s not to be missed in Monty Burns vs Rob Mullholland; the previous bout was so visceral we couldn’t possibly reprint any of the verbal slams. Fun, yet terribly offensive, the event brings out the best and worst in the comedians on show, gathering crowds eager for “Don’t Flop” level lyrical barbs. 15 January, Holiday Inn, Liverpool. Tickets £5/£3 Conc.

The Only Way is Downton

Best to catch this now before it becomes woefully outdated: this is hilarious, on trend satire of all things popular culture. Luke Kempner’s spot on impressions land in Liverpool just after a successful season on the West End, which itself followed rave reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe. Celebrities begin to descend upon the Abbey (much like they seem to for every Christmas special) and all hell breaks loose as Kempner’s one man show zips around the stage in an affectionate spoof that will appease fans of Downton and inventive comedy alike. 21 January, Unity Theatre, Liverpool. Tickets £12.

Benny Boot at Baby Blue

This Australian comic is one of the most exciting acts working around the United Kingdom at the moment. Seemingly ill at ease with the world around him, Boot perfectly crafts his stories and anecdotes with bizarre turns of phrase and a penchant for psychotropics in his past. His meandering style is sometimes reminiscent of Tony Law, though Boot seems a little more in control of his set (and his faculties). Strong support comes from Richard Massara, Katie Mulgrew and David Longley, with rising star Pete Otway handling MC duties. 29-31 January, Comedy Central, Baby Blue Basement, Albert Dock, Liverpool. Ticket prices vary, see website for details.

Culture Guides


Northern flicks, sci-fi masterpieces and some brand new film festivals feature in this month’s cinema preview.


Spring weather might be dragging its feet a little, but the world of exhibitions isn’t slowing down with new shows popping up everywhere to greet the new season.

The Bull and the Moon at Instituto Cervantes


With spring’s indecisive weather in mind, we’ve pulled together a whole load of fun indoor and outdoor family events and activities taking place in Manchester and the North.

Poet Helen Mort.


Spring is making an entrance in live literature land with some extra special festival events, writing walks, online launches and in real life readings from local writers as well as international talent.


From Father John Misty to The Flaming Lips, The Waeve to Big Thief, here are the gigs on our radar for early spring.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


You’ll find everything from work-in-progress scratch nights to multi-award winning musicals in this month’s theatre guide.

Classical Music

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Get ready for spring and summer with the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

From indie markets to bit-sized meditation, spoon carving workshops to gallery tours, here are the headlines in the world of tours and activities.