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“I try and do routines that no one else is doing,” says stand-up Tony Law, perhaps unnecessarily, seeing as famous ‘bits’ of his include dressing in a black leotard and hollering “Gok Wan!” at a befuddled audience.

“The problem is, it’s not always super-funny to everyone,” he laughs.Law is just one of a gaggle of verge-of-superstardom comedians who’ll be laughing it up in London when the Udderbelly festival launches on Friday.

Now in its fifth year, Udderbelly comprises three months of comedy shows set inside a purpose-built, upside-down purple cow (obviously), exported from the influential Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the South Bank.

Fest co-director Ed Bartlam tells TNT the beauty of Udderbelly is that low ticket prices (they average around £14) encourage people to take a punt on acts they haven’t seen before, and also make it possible for folks to come along to more than one show over the cow’s April to July residency. 

So while there are plenty of big names lined up to enter the udders – The Boy With Tape On His Face will be appearing for a three-week run, and Father Ted’s Ardal O’ Hanlon takes the stage for two nights – you can also check out a raft of new talent. 

Tony Law

Calling Law a “new talent” wouldn’t be quite accurate, however, as he’s been in the business for more than a decade. But his left-field comedy – which often includes having to explain his jokes to a nonplussed crowd – has generated huge buzz more recently, and many predict his Maximum Nonsense show at Udderbelly will really see him take off.

“It is a hard sell,” Law admits of his act, which over the years has seen him dabble with costumes including English-explorer-meets-peasant-farmer and an 18th-century Olympian crossed with a Viking.

And yet despite this unapologetic oddity – Law also yells his ‘jokes’ at the audience – there’s a real sweetness about the bushy-bearded Canadian.

“There’ll be lots of shouting and movement and bollocks and madness,” he promises, “[but] hopefully with a lovely heart underneath it all.”  

Another unique up-and-comer headed for Udderbelly is Doc Brown, real name Ben Smith (brother of renowned author Zadie).

Doc Brown

He turned a failed bid for rap superstardom (Smith was in a band with Mark Ronson, but got dropped just before the superproducer hit the big time) into a much-lauded comedy show, Unfamous, which also went down a storm at the Melbourne International Festival in 2011.

What’s different about Smith’s act is that he raps his routines, riffing on everything from hip hop culture to how to make a proper cup of tea. He admits that Unfamous was cathartic  – “[stand-up] is a way of getting stuff off your chest” – but says his new show is “10 times better”, adding the key to his success is proving rap can be clever.

“I’m taking the piss [out of hip hop culture], but don’t take the piss out of how I rap,” Smith warns us. “I don’t think there’s many rappers who can touch me.”

The buck doesn’t stop with these two dudes, though. Check out more top picks over the page.                        

Best of the Udderbelly >

Udderbelly. April 12-July 14. £10+    
Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX  
Tube | Waterloo 

Tony Law’s Maximum Nonsense is on April 20 & 27.
7.45pm. £12.50.
Doc Brown is on April 26 & May 3.
9pm. £15.50. 


Best of the Udderbelly: Top comedians and comedy shows to see at this year's festival at South Bank
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