A SIDEWAYS EYE ON NEXT WEEK

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The Independent Culture
It's that time of year when cattle get nervous, and a video is followed by a hyphen and the word art. The Turner Prize is awarded on 28 Nov at the Tate Gallery. I nominate the sponsor, Channel 4. Last year it ended its coverage of the prize dinner just before the announcement of the winner, thus provoking more suspense, debate and talk of insights into the fractured nature of contemporary life than any of the shortlisted exhibits.

Strange but true, if boring fact: The Beatles have sold more albums this year than in any single year in the Sixties. But the spoilsports won't play live which leaves the field clear for The Bootleg Beatles. Riding high on the back of the real things, or on the back of the real things' efforts 30 years ago, they play the Royal Albert Hall on 29 Nov. The Counterfeit Stones are only playing the Little Empire on the same night. Which probably proves that the real Stones need to find some outtakes to market.

Mind you, on 25 Nov Boy George plays the Royal Albert Hall - lately, he hasn't even had an in-take to market.

The apocryphal story tells of the actor who was asked on his deathbed what it was like to die. "It's hard," he replied, "but comedy's harder." But a remedy is at hand. The Royal Television Society is holding a masterclass on comedy on 26 Nov at the Groucho Club (where the name dropping alone can be hilarious). It is led by Andy Hamilton, one of the brains behind Drop The Dead Donkey and Not The Nine O'Clock News. Here's a free tip for those planning to take part - The Eye masterclass in how comedy experts listen to jokes: nod your head very, very slowly, mutter "yes, yes, that's good" and never, never smile. That should land you a nice job in the BBC's comedy department.

If you want to try it out, Ben Elton does his stuff at the Palladium on 24 Nov. Remember, you can nod but you must not laugh.

DAVID LISTER

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