If you never thought you'd ever see the Pope, Keith Flint of Prodigy, Fidel Castro and Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies all on the same bill, then you've obviously never heard of Ennio Marchetto. He's a one-man variety show. Dressed only in a black body-stocking and a rain-forest's worth of paper, the Venetian performer's schtick goes something like this: he lip-syncs and sashays around the stage as a cut-out celeb for a few seconds before ripping off the disguise to reveal another, even more over-the- top cardboard caricature. Imagine several series-full of contestants from Stars In Their Eyes crossed with a dizzying quick-change artist and an expert in origami - and you're half-way to grasping Marchetto. It's comedy, Jim, but not as we know it.
Gielgud Theatre, London W1 (0171-494 5067) tomorrow; Swan Theatre, High Wycombe (01494 512000) Fri
THE BEST OF THE REST
Music and comedy have not always been the happiest of bedfellows. Fascinating Aida may perhaps give musical comedy a good name again. The immaculately turned-out trio - pianist Dillie Keane and vocalists Adele Anderson and Issy Van Randwyck - have mastered the art of comic incongruity. They play cleverly on the tension of cut-glass accents enunciating perfect close-harmony songs about, say, golden showers and Richard Gere's connection with gerbils.
Theatre Royal Haymarket, London SW1 (0171-930 8800) from Mon
The Leicester Comedy Festival has been steadily growing over the past six years to become one of the major comedy gatherings outside Edinburgh. This year kicks off with the likeable Irish yarn-spinner, Ed Byrne (Fri). Further highlights include: the bumbling showbiz failure John Shuttleworth (15 Feb, above); the Perrier Award-winning stand-up Tommy Tiernan (16 Feb); the entertaining Mark Lamarr (21 Feb); and the lovably daft Alan Davies (22 Feb).
Festival hotline: 0800 952 5511Reuse content