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Monkey Business Comedy Club


 London's best comedy nights

The Monkey Business Comedy Club is A first-rate comedy club and well worth travelling for. We’d pick the Thursday night over Saturday, but you’ll get a decent show on either day. There’s a mix of big names and up-and-comers, and host Martin Besserman is a pro who’ll keep you laughing in between acts. Of which, there’s often as many as twelve a night, so you’ll get your money’s worth. If one isn’t to your taste, another promises a laugh.Info: Thursdays and Saturdays, across Camden, EVENING STANDARD 10 JANUARY 2017 


REVIEW 10-5-16  Imogen O'Rork


When/Where: Sat 7th May 2016 at the Holiday Inn, Camden Town.Funny women were out in force on Saturday at Monkey Business, North London’s best comedy club run by Martin Besserman,. He kicked off with relative newcomers Roisin and Chiara, a surreal sketch act who have been described as “The Mighty Boosh on acid.” They began by reading out crap reviews posted for the Holiday Inn’s accommodation upstairs: a canny demonstration of their ability to turn the mundane into the sublimely ridiculous. They segued into an increasingly maniacal dialogue between stereotypical girly types and performed their final skit while shovelling marshmallows in their mouths. It was a trip but less like acid and more like hash cake with your mates. Can’t wait to see how their Edinburgh Fringe show will develop.Next up was ‘Svetlana - the Oligarch’s Wife’: the Gucci-packing, Chihuahua-toting, feathered creation of Laura Bodell. Apparently bored by working out in her Kensington mega-basement, Svetlana has launched herself onto the stand-up scene where she gets her kicks by interacting with “dirty poor persons” in the audience. We were warned that anyone who didn’t clap heartily would end up in the canal, so it was lucky for us that laughter flowed freely.Whether Deborah Francis-White was intended as the headliner or not, she certainly dominated. In recent years her act has shifted from personal material to headlong sparring with the audience and boy, is she good at it. One heckler, a club regular called Howard who self-described as a “nutcase on benefits” and had a case of verbal diarrhoea, presented both an opportunity and a moral dilemma but Frances-White managed to keep the ribbing just above the belt. Like Jo Brand in her early days, Francis-White doesn’t suffer fools gladly; so if you’re sitting in the front rows, you’d better have your wits about you.Then came Richard Gadd with a routine which mixes straight gags with embarrassing romantic stories, punctuated by sound effects. It felt fresh and edgy in a post-post-modern kind of way (“She said, ‘If I was stranded on a desert island, I’d eat you and fuck the sausage roll’” - Class!) He didn’t take well to Howard interrupting him at the beginning of his spiel but then it all fed into his twitchy, man-on-the-edge persona.The evening was topped off with a set from the No Frills Twins, a post-internet, arthouse cover band who looked like they’d stepped out of a David Lynch movie. Extraordinary, beautiful and weird voices... sirens from a parallel universe where everything comes in twos.INFO and BOOKING: Monkey Business comedy Clubreviewed by imo@mimotv


Talk about doing it properly! Martin Besserman's Monkey Business club takes me right back to live comedy as it used to know, when it was fun! And the line ups are superb - you'll regularly see the top names in comedy together with new and emerging acts. If you love live comedy then Monkey Business is your spiritual home!  

Dickie Richards wrote in Time out  .’ 

2 September  2013
 Monkey Business was voted the best comedy club in North London Monkey Business Comedy is a comedic institution. Currently hitting a double whammy on the circuit, setting up camp on Thursday nights in Kentish Town’s The Oxford and Saturdays at different North London venues.  It is as popular with the acts as it is with the audience. I don’t want to point any fingers as to the success of Monkey Business but MC and organiser, the slightly off key yet much loved Martin Besserman, might have something to do with it. His track record in booking acts is awe worthy (check it out). He makes a point of splitting the bill equally between established and new acts because everyone needs a chance to get that big break.

 Sat 28 April 2012
Well done Martin Besserman for holding your Monkey Business fund raising show with K9Angels.
I also hate animal suffering. SIMON COWELL

 Monkey Business comedy club review by Jon Dean Islington Gazzette Thursday 9 Feb 2012
on Martin Besserman`s fantastic comedy club 

The Monkey Business Comedy Club clearly deserves its reputation as one of the finest laugh-emporiums in the capital.
Comedy review: Monkey Business at the Sir Richard Steele - Theatre - Islington Gazette

Martin Besserman shared a link.
Comedy review: Monkey Business at the Sir Richard Steele - Theatre - Islington
Popular comedy night My first gig at Monkey Business tonight. What a superb night hosted by the inimitable Martin Besserman. A great club and such a relaxed but professional atmosphere. And met some amazing talent too Abi Roberts Friday 21 Oct 2011

 When you`re looking for a quality laugh and find yourself in North London (or somewhere on the Northen line) the Sir Richard Steele might be your best bet for a Saturday night the Monkey Business Comedy Club takes over the upstairs stage.Martin Besserman  brings some of the biggest names in the UK comedy circuit to his excellent club.
Whilst a lot of people in the south east are looking to escape the economic doom and gloom, there are still plenty of great nights out to be had in the capital.
 Everyone is in need of a laugh sometimes but if you want to avoid the clogged up tourism of central London’s comedy circuit, then venture north to Camden. One of the oldest parts of the city is also host to a variety of weird and wonderful comedy acts both famous and new. The Monkey Business Comedy Club in Camden started small  but has grown into a popular and hilarious night out. Playing on Thursdays and Saturdays, MC Martin Besserman has managed to attract some high quality talent to his club, which alternates between two pubs: the Sir Richard Steele on Haverstock Hill, and The Oxford in Kentish Town. What a 12 April 2011
Russell Brand, Lee Mack, Russell Howard, Dave Gorman, Harry Hill, and many other household names have all performed at Monkey Business in recent years, and many new comedians have turned up to try out new material with usually great success. The newest are usually put on sooner rather than later to allow the audience to warm up for the more well known acts, with the help of a certain degree of alcohol from the bar. Prices are £15 for non-members and £12 for members, but for a whole night of raucous laughter and fun this amounts to much less than you would spend in the centre of London and the atmosphere is fantastic. Highly recommended for budding comedians and audiences alike.Night Glitter web review  Monkey Business 5th April 2011
  Martin Besserman is an excellent host John Miller at Channel 4 Monday 14 February 2011 

  Many thanks to the MC and very popular comedy promoter Martin Besserman for the excellent stand-up. Jewish press Tuesday 28 December 2010
The Monkey Business Comedy Club with its colourful host Martin Besserman was a great night. I thought it was excellent and will definitely return. Chris Moran  News International  Monday 26 April 2010

 Martin Besserman is a genuine maverick with a passionate love of comedy, who works non-stop to make his club a success and to promote talent. What he brings to the comedy scene is drive, energy, and resourcefulness, and his new act nights serve to introduce performers into his main shows all the time. Chortle by Jupiter Saturday 9 January 2010
The idiosyncratic Martin Besserman hosts in his own imitable way.Tim Arthur Time Out August 2009 CRITICS`CHOICE

   The superb established Monkey Business comedy club always has good solid line-ups and its run by amiable Martin Besserman

:Tim Arthur Time Out magazine 
The Monkey Business comedy night comes highly recommended!: Maddy Savage reporter /presenter Newsround BBC Television Centre 24 .11 .08

 Monkey Business has been such a roaring success that it now runs three nights a week in 2 different venues in North London. Attracting big names, such as Noel Fielding, Harry Hill and Russell Brand, Monkey Business always has good billings of varying acts from musical, to sketch and stand-up. …Spoonfed  16 Tuesday September 2008 

 The Monkey Business show for Children in need was brilliant . The hugely talented  Martin Besserman made it all happen. Sarah Batesman from BBC Radio London 94.5 Nov 15 2007 

 -Monkey Business has a great venue and good line ups!)Jenny Popplewell   TV `s E4 24 September 2007
.No banana skin for these monkeys

Comedy Club
THE MONKEY Business comedy club is a strange fish – it is stuck in the upstairs room of a Kentish Town pub. But thankfully its surroundings provide ample copy for the comics.
Friday night was a case in point. Edinburgh veterans and circuit newcomers bid to out do each other with curious tales and simple one liners. The opener was a cracker. Nick Doody’s delivery was spot on, wandering in front of the stage and talking without a microphone. His banter flowed and his introspective takes on standing in a upstairs room in a pub was extremely cool.
Ed Bainbridge followed with a short but sweet set, then Simon Munnery took over. Munnery’s patter is well honed and his joke to story ratio high enough to make you start giggling at the next joke while you haven’t quite finished laughing at the one before. His riff on a stay at a mid-western American town where booze is banned was particularly memorable.
It led gently on to Lewis Schaffer, who uses the fact he hails from New York to create an act. Schaffer’s takes on relations between the cousins from both sides of the pond was covering well-trod ground – PG Wodehouse’s novels of the 1920s and 1930s did it well, for example. But that is no criticism: if Wodehouse found it funny, it was, and the fact Louis has updated it is all good.
Compere Martin Bess­erman has got it just right – a grand mix of funny people come beating a path to his door and a new branch of the Money Biz is opening in October – the upstairs rooms at the Sir Richard Steele in Haverstock Hill will host another night of belly laughs. Spread the smiles, Martin – it’s not a bad thing to do for a living.
 The Review - THEATRE by DAN CARRIER  Published: 20 September 2007


Monkey Business in Camden is a comedy club that attracts big names and rarely puts a in a dud performer.The club is small and fairly intimate so it provides a good opportunity to catch big acts in a little place.
The resident MC Martin Besserman is known to wander a little way from the norm a self confessed Speakers Corner frequenter, he may be a little mad,but his commitment ensures this club is one of the better quality nights on offer in London.
Martin Besserman Truely original and unpredictable MC and promoter for Monkey Business,one of the better North London comedy nights,and popular with comedians precisely because they never know what to expect.The audience is always warm and receptive but what will Besserman set up to keep the comics diverted ?A stage invasion by ducklings? Audience members hurling cloths? You just don`t know. Monkey Business is a great night out and the main monkey is Martin. He will make you laugh.Spoonfed /August 2007

 Stephen Carlin I don’t understand the point of starred reviews. I’d hope that after reading a review you would be able to ascertain whether it’s worth going to see the thing or not using your brain and opinions as opposed to an abstract number out of 10 or a pointless number of stars.
Monkey Business in Kentish town is one of the many independent comedy clubs in London. Upstairs at O’Reilly’s in Kentish Town, it is run and hosted by comedy enthusiast Martin Besserman, who claims he runs the club spiritually not commercially. It shows. Tonight is a quiet one. But that’s a rarity, the club usually sells out. What sets Monkey Business apart is its booking policy: mixing intermediate acts with some of the biggest names in stand up - Harry Hill, Noel Fielding and Rich Hall to name a few. This is chicken-in-a-basket comedy without the chicken-in-a-basket comedians.
On the menu tonight (as well as potato wedges and spicy buffalo wings) is Scotsman Stephen Carlin. About four years into his stand up tenure, he’s here hot on the back of his support slot with 41st best stand up in the world Stewart Lee and is about to start a four-night stand at the Soho Theatre.
Stephen’s skill is in his choice of topics. The impossibility of being able to commit suicide on the Glasgow underground and the consequences if someone were to try; a scene in Superman 3 in which he highlights the lack of respect Superman shows for the eco system whilst freezing a lake to put out a fire… This is observational humour but not the usual relationship and five-busses-coming-at-once fare.
His set is peppered with some good one-liners and an antagonistic approach to audience participation. Stephen is skilled enough to be at home performing to any audience, but this is where he might exercise caution - if he follows his instincts and keeps to his unique observations he’ll stand out. So let’s hope that (unlike Superman) he remembers to think about where he’s going and what he ’s doing.

1 million stars.
Head down to Monkey Business for a guaranteed excellent night of stand up comedy
The Fix magazine June 2007 issue
  Monkey Business has changed venues a few times ,but the bills remain as highly appealing as ever .Thursday 3 May 2007 Bruce Dessau Evening Standard

     Monkey Business comedy club was a brilliant discovery, a fantastic atmosphere with very funny acts, put together with heart and soul. I really recommend this club as a great night out. Time Out magazine  February 2007 

 It`s time to stop monkeying around 
It seems to have been at just every pub in Camden Town at one time or another-but Monkey Business is proving you can`tkeep a good comedy club down.
OK,so the every pub thing is a slight exaggeration,but it`s fair to say Monkey Business has been around the block a bit.
        Its first regular address was downstairs at Bar 113 in Bayham Street but after a couple of years it shuffeld along Camden High Street and made its way upstairs at the Lush Bar.
        After that venue changed hands,it was forced to find yet another home and is currently settling into life at O` Reilly`s in Kentish Town Road   But the club`s promoter Martin Besserman is not reaching for his slippers just yet.

  "A lot of promoters get fed up because the relationship with the bar manager can be a very delicate situation.Its never a surprise if someone says they do not want to do the comedy anymore. But  O` Reilly`s  has been good .The location is not quite as sexy but the room is excellent and they are letting me get on with itand do my own thing."
  Doing it his way has helped Besserman establish Monkey Business as a club where bigger names are keen to appear because they know they will get a recptive audience.
 Harry Hill,Russell Brand,,Jimmy Carr,and Stewart Lee have all appeared on the the relatively modest stage.                                             
.       And Besserman ,who MCs all the shows himself ,believes it is his ethos and approach that helps attract star performers.
   Like many people in the industry he started his comedy career full time after the end of a relationship but has found a new love in staging nights of stand -up comedy entertainment .
   He said "I have always been fascinated by comedy and comedy as live entertainment.
 " There are so many people with problems emotionally or economically and comedy can provide such a release- even  if it is just temporary.   "Of course I  have to make a living.But I thinkif you run a club from a spritual perspective rather then purely corportate,money makingway,people know where you are coming from.
      " If you put on bills that are intellectually stimulating,you are going to connect with the type of people you want."
Ham & High  Arts & Features (Back page) February 22 2007  Writes Matt Eley.

     I have been out to numerous comedy nights in and around north London, sometimes even venturing south of the river and I have to say Monkey Business is the best night out for comedy I have ever been to. The established comedy clubs of central London often make one feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Monkey Business is a more relaxed affair. Upon my visit I was treated to routines by Dara O'Briain and Mark Steel. It's the sheer variety that appeals to me. If someone suggests a comedy act that you've never seen before the risk is that for the whole night you'll have to sit there through an act that just isn't funny. There is no such risk associated with this club. The variety is there, there is a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and most importantly it's funny! Graham Simons, Online Editor  20 Feb 2006
 Islington Gazette,and Hornsey Journal review. 
Monkey Business  3 August 2005  Page 25
Monkey Business deserves to be hailed as Camden`s best comedy club.
In little over a year it has been transformed from a dingy little stage for forgettable upstarts into a dingy little stage for top comics.The ever_smiling promoter,booker,and MC.Martin Besserman,has enticed everyone from Harry Hill to Jimmy Carr to take to the stage here.
Even the nearby coporate comedy factory Jongleurs would struggle to book such big name acts.
It is the intimacy and atmosphere that seems to attract the comedians,as much as the punters to Monkey Business.
When i went along.Irish stand up Dara O Briain ,a regular face on BBC`s Have I Got News For You.was headlining.
He followed three fantastic acts. including Russell Brand,presenter of Big Brother`s Big Mouth
The lively fast talking comic who dashes about the stage like a hurricane gave an impressive and bombastic delivery.
   By the time OBriain took to the stage to preview his Edinburgh Festival material,the tightly packed audience was well warmed up.His performance exuded warmth and spontaneous good humour.
He used no gimmicks,other then a naturally fast_ talking delivery ,no cutting edge nudging of boundaries.His method is edge simple _when he talks,you listen and you laugh.
This was a sterling performance by O Briain and another well _deserved boost for Martin Besserman and Monkey Business _ Tom Mackenzie  Islington Gazette,and Hornsey Journal reveiw
Emporium of Mirth  
Monkey Business  Camden. 
Camden’s Monkey business is pretty much a one-man operation with compare Martin Besserman also being the booker, promoter and customer services department all rolled into one. It’s exactly this that gives Monkey Business it’s charm and helped it gain such a solid reputation over the last year. 
When Martin takes to the stage he treats the audience like old friends, and references the phone conversations he has had with them to book their tickets. Sometimes this can be a little embarrassing for the person he chooses to pick on, but only seems to serve to bring the audience closer. In many cases, this closeness also brings the best out in the acts, they have an idea of their audience even before they take the stage. On the night I visited, Lee Mack was playing and it is a testament to this atmosphere that at the end of his set he sighed fondly and said “This is a proper little dingy comedy club… I’ve missed this!” 
The line-ups at Monkey Business are eclectic . I advise you to give Monkey Business a try. 2004 Emporium of Mirth  
Monkey Business comedy club puts on top shows .I strongly recommend this club. BILL BAILY Time Out  2004 
Reveiw of the Monkey Business comedy club 
A Blooming good laugh in Camden
By attracting the likes of Harry Hill to perform in front of crowds a fraction of the size he is used to.Monkey Business has been starting to make something of a  name for itself.The gig, run by promoter Martin Besserman has been based in this beautifully dark and dingy room.Hill,who performed at the club some months ago will be back for two gigs on April 22 and 23.   When Ham and High visited it was treated to a cracking opening by Andy Parsons. In his Sergeant Major style
he flirted between weighty subjects such as New Labour,the state of public transport and the Middle East conflict without coming across as too right_on `or .even dull.
   Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin showed off his slick talents although some of his material is in need of a little up-dating.
Eric then followed in a low key Chortle-inducing third act.
But the star of the show was Adam Bloom .With a nervous energy and sheer confidence,he had the crowd on his side the whole way though his entire routine.
With line ups like that Monkey Business is set to go from stength to strength.    written in Ham & High April 9 2004
 The personable and engaging Martin Besserman is the
best entertainer to appear at Speakers’ Corner in generations.
 from his book.     Summer in the park by Tony Allan 2004 
 I throughly enjoyed my evening spent at the Monkey Business comedy club . Martin Besserman is very entertaining as MC .        
   Highly recommended Tom MacKenzie North London Press January 20th 2005
 Monkey Business is The Business and has the electrifying atmosphere of what a classic club should be. Intimate, immediate, interactive and yes, a little dangerous! 
Martin's ability to mix the safe bets with the untried really works. A worthy comedy beacon that reminds me of the great comedy club revival of the early 80s - only the smoke free atmosphere confirms that we are in the Noughties! Well done Martin Besserman  Enjoy!......Jay Sharmar  Asian Times April 12 2005

Sean Lock, Alan Carr and more. A good night out. Saturday nights  Monkey Business  is the best  comedy club in Camden