Comedy: Boothby Graffoe performs at the Komedia

Boothby Graffoe performs at the Komedia (01273 277070) in Brighton tonight.
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The Independent Culture
No comedian who goes by the name of Boothby Graffoe is going to be run- of-the-mill. At six-feet-four with close-cropped hair, Graffoe stands out from the crowd. An expansive one-off, he is fed-up with the cloning that seems to go among aspiring stand-ups. "Eddie Izzard, Harry Hill, Jack Dee and Lee Evans are all individuals with an immediately recognisable style," Graffoe reckons. "They're at the top, so naturally you go round the circuit and hear thousands of comedians following them. The amount I've seen doing the Eddie Izzard `errr.' We call it `Eddieing'."

Graffoe has never been accused of such unoriginality. He is unable to cite any comic influences (the closest he comes is "Bill Gates, or perhaps John Selwyn Gummer.") A booming presence on stage who wins audiences over through sheer force of personality, he makes a barnstorming compere - as he proved hosting the recent Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award Regional Finals. "I only have a good rapport with the audience because I haven't got any friends," he laughs.

Like apparently every other comedian on the circuit, Graffoe is currently developing a series for Channel 4. "I'm going to call it Mates," he exclusively reveals. "It's about six good-looking people who've been mates for a long time and live together in this smart flat."

He is coy about saying more, as he is all too well aware of the difficulties involved in translating the thrill of the live act to the small screen. "Stand-up just doesn't work on television," he admits, "it's like a porn video. It's easy to get an erection watching a porn video, but nothing like the feeling you'd get if you were actually in the room. Comedy's the same. It's like being told about a birth rather than being there. Stand-up on television should just be an advert. People should get enough of a taste of it so they want to get out of the house and see some more."

Ever the maverick, Graffoe is at a loss to sum up his style. "I dunno," he reflects. "Maybe I should stick to `abstract surrealism with a streak of japery', as one critic put it."

EYE ON THE NEW

Despite being dressed, in his own words, like a "Sainsbury's manager", Jack Dee proves that he can still cut it live, with a high-class show focusing on such conundrums as why petrol stations always sell bird- tables.

Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1 (0171-494 5540) to 21 Jun

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