Edinburgh Fringe spirit comes to Hampstead

One of north London’s finest comedy clubs will be offering up an early taste of the Edinburgh Fringe over the next two months.

Starting this week, The Hampstead Comedy Club is hosting its biggest-ever series of Fringe previews – and giving comics a platform to test out their latest gags as they feverishly hone their routines ahead of the biggest fixture in the comedy calendar.

A horde of top acts will be appearing for a fiver a pop, from the legendary Simon Munnery to Imran Yusuf, one of last year’s breakout stars, and former Perrier best newcomer Josie Long, along with a generous helping of up-and-comers.

There will be 48 one-hour shows in all, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in June and July.

Ivor Dembina, Edinburgh veteran, purveyor of Jewish comedy, and Hampstead founder and regular compere, said: “People will be presenting new work, so it’s hard to predict what the shows are like – I haven’t even seen them myself. But that’s part of the fun – I’m happy to admit that there’s an element of paying your money and taking your chance.

“Part of the fun is trying to spot the acts that are going to do well and move on to greater things – every year at Edinburgh there are two or three unknowns who become quite famous overnight.”

Mr Dembina describes the one-hour form as the purest in stand-up comedy.

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“You can see over an hour if someone is any good,” he said. “It’s surprisingly easy to keep an audience entertained for 20 minutes, but you can’t bluff it over an hour. It really sorts out wheat from the chaff – and that’s what Edinburgh does.”

So for anyone who simply cannot wait until August – or who would just rather not go to Scotland – The Hampstead will be a good bet over the next couple of months.

- The Hampstead Comedy Club (020 7633 9539) is at the Pembroke Castle in Gloucester Avenue, Primrose Hill. There is no booking and all shows are �5. Visit www.hampsteadcomedy.co.uk for full listings.

Picture: Ivor Dembina Archive