Hands up who thinks 2019 might be a bit of a trying year?
But don’t be downhearted at the thought of the next 12 months, because some of the funniest names in the comedy business are heading Liverpool’s way to keep the city chortling through the long days and nights ahead.
From TV superstars at the newly-named M&S Bank rena to up-and-coming comedy names in the city’s resident clubs, from Edinburgh winners to award-winning writers, cerebral quiz hosts to musical geniuses (that’s you Mr Minchin), and from wily raconteurs to whip-quick gag merchants, there’s something to suit everyone’s sense of humour.
Here are some of the names that are set to tickle ribs and give our funny bones a knock in 2019, along with where you can find them.
M&S Bank Arena
Double Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Nish Kumar (above) returns to Liverpool with his It’s In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves show, with a date at the Auditorium on March 3.
Jason Manford also returns in 2019, this time a return to the stage in the main arena, appearing on April 6 as part of his Muddle Class tour.
Bill Bailey’s hit Larks In Transit tour comes to the Auditorium on May 25, while Danny Baker makes a beeline for the venue on June 2 when he brings his Good Time Charlie’s Back!! show to the Mersey waterfront.
Rising star James Acaster is at the Auditorium on June 30 with Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999.
Russell Howard is also back in 2019 and comes to the main arena stage on October 5 as part of his biggest globe-spanning stand-up tour to date.
Hot on the heels of his first national tour in 2018 which saw him go from circuit act to one of the biggest selling names in UK stand up in less than a year, Paul Smith returns with his second national tour show - Following. See him at the arena on November 9.
Last but certainly not least, Liverpool favourite Agnes Brown and her brood are set to present Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Musical? for three nights, from November 29-December 1.
The Epstein Theatre has an impressive line-up of comedy talent already announced for 2019.
The year kicks off with Ed Gamble who comes to the theatre on February 17, with Blizzard, and after a sell-out national tour in 2017, fans are promised another bracing flurry of idiocy.
Mark Watson comes to Hanover Street on March 3 with The Infinite Show, an evening about empathy.
Shappi Khorsandi (above) performs Skittish Warrior…Confessions of a Club Comic on March 28, promising a journey through the 90s club scene complete with sharp-tongued gags and cultural observations.
Our Rita’s Live returns to the theatre on March 31, while May 16 sees Incurable Optimist, the debut stand-up hour from Paul Mayhew-Archer, multi award-winning co-writer of The Vicar of Dibley.
Inbetweeners star and I’m a Celebrity runner-up Emily Atack asks people to Talk Thirty To Me on May 17, while Sofie Hagen brings her Edinburgh Fringe Best Newcomer award-winning show Bubblewrap on May 23, along with the first chance to hear her read from her new book Happy Fat.
Mark Steel promises Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright on May 29, and on June 2 Live Nation and MZA present Scottish star comedian Daniel Sloss.
Fast forward to September 26 when comedian and impressionist Luke Kempner rocks up in Liverpool with House of Faces, an ultimate reality show where no one is off limits.
Viral comedy sensations Farmer Michael & Kathleen bring The Full Irish to the Epstein on October 24-25.
And if you haven’t already got your ticket you’ll be disappointed, because James Acaster’s November 29-30 shows are already sold out.
QI MC Sandi Toksvig is Live! at the Phil on February 8. Expect tall stories, fascinatingly funny facts, really silly jokes, a quick-fire Q&A and a quiz. Don’t expect tap-dancing, leotards or a forward roll.
February 20 sees a special Laughterhouse Live with proceeds going to Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Claire House and Pete Fitzmaurice. The confirmed line-up includes Neil Fitzmaurice, Chris Cairns, Keith Carter as Nige, Daliso Chaponda, Steve Gribbin and The Farm.
Comedy podcast star Bill Burr appears in person at Hope Street on February 26-27, and he first night is already sold out.
Tommy Tiernan is back on the road again with his new show, Paddy Crazy Horse, coming to Liverpool on April 10. He rants and raves, he dances and acts. He tries to be very silly and very serious at the same time.
Stewart Francis rides Into the Punset on May 25 in what is being described as his final tour.
And you’ll want to bag yourself a seat (double or not) on October 15 as non other than Ben Elton returns to stand-up after a 15 year absence.
Multi award-winning Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert has had a six year break from stand-up, but now he’s back and heading for the Empire on February 3 with The Book of John.
Meanwhile Bianca Del Rio arrives in Lime Street on September 1. The self-proclaimed ‘Clown in a Gown’ will tell tales of her world travels and the outrageous circus that is her life on the most ambitious solo drag show tour in history, It’s Jester Joke.
Musical comedy genius Tim Minchin is on a world tour and comes to Liverpool for two nights on October 31-November 1, but if you haven't got your ticket already then bad luck because fans have already snapped up all the Empire seats.
Eddie Izzard presents Wunderbar on November 7 as he goes back to his roots with an all-new show which expands on his own unique, totally surreal view of life, love, history and his ‘theory of the universe’.
And finally ‘Mouth of the South’ Rob Beckett brings his new show Wallop to the theatre on November 10.
Mark Thomas returns to the Playhouse this spring for a two-night stay from April 12-13 with Check Up - Our NHS @ 70.
Thomas is 54, the NHS is 70, UK national average life expectancy is 84. If he makes it to 84 the NHS will be 100, what will they both look like?
Based on a series of interviews with leading experts in and on the NHS and residencies in hospitals and surgeries, Thomas working with director Nicolas Kent uses his own demise to explore the state we’re in. What's going right, what’s going wrong and how does it get better?
Hot Water Comedy Club
Hot Water Comedy Club has full roster of funny men and women signed up to make audiences laugh their way through 2019.
But along with the regular nights there are also a number of solo shows being hosted by the club, kicking off with Carl Hutchinson (above) on January 18-19 and 24.
Darren Harriott brings Visceral on January 26, while Gabby Killick presents Girlfriend From Hell on February 1, Alfie Brown: Lunatic is on February 15, Ahir Shah brings Duffer to the club on February 20, and it’s Ha Ha Time for Andrew Bird on February 21.
Jack Berry prepares to Tango on February 27, Gary Delaney returns to Liverpool with his Gangsters Paradise on March 7, Sarah Keyworth presents Dark Horse on March 14, and Paul McCaffrey ponders I Thought I’d Have Grown Out of This By Now on March 22.
April 4 sees a visit for Lloyd Griffith with his show All-rounder, Sean McLoughlin brings Hail Mary to the venue on April 6, Gary Meikle is The iBrow Guy on April 7, there are 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke – April 17, and Glenn Wool: Wools Gold II (The Iron Pirate) is on April 18.
Add in Brennan Reece – Evermore (April 21), Eleanor Conway – Walk of Shame II (April 27), Jess Robinson: No Filter (May 2), Larry Dean: Bampot (May 16), Chris McCausland: Speaky Blinder (June 10) and Paul Foot on September 26 and there’s no reason to be glum this year.
Along with its regular roster of comedians, Laughterhouse is also welcoming a couple of touring shows this spring.
Scarred For Life comes to the Slaughterhouse on March 12, guaranteed to be a trip down memory lane for anyone who grew up in the 1970s.
Did you spend your childhood being traumatised by Worzel Gummidge, Hartley Hare, Children of the Stones and the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water?
Were you terrified of the Usborne Book of Ghosts in your school library, given nightmares by Horror Top Trumps and Game of Jaws, and then handed a Dalek’s Death Ray lolly to calm you down? Then Scarred For Life is for you.
Meanwhile Laughterhouse favourite, Canadian Tom Stade, returns to Liverpool on March 29 when he will be appearing at Hanger 34 in the Baltic Quarter.