Comedy: Gig of the week

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The Independent Culture
Al Murray Tonight

Al Murray, the world's most comical pub landlord, expounds on why he loves pubs so deeply: "Crisps, nuts, lager, bitter, stout, ales mild, brown and pale, sticky floors, saloon doors, the occasional fight on a Friday night, and a glass of white wine for the lady. What could be finer? And if you don't agree, get thee to a wine bar."

In Late Lock-In '99, the skinheaded Mine Host continues to rail against everything that deviates from his rigid idea of what constitutes "normal" - modern jazz, for example, or French people. A send-up of the worst paranoias of the English male, this electrifying act starts an 11-week Saturday-night run at the Talk of London from tonight.

Talk of London (0171-387 2414) tonight; Frome Merlin Theatre, Frome (01373 465949) Wed; Swindon Arts Centre (01793 614837) Thur; Horsham Arts Centre (01403 268689) Fri

THE BEST OF THE REST

Craig Charles

Ben Elton used to be known as "Motormouth", but the title could just as easily apply to Craig Charles. The star of Red Dwarf makes a dazzlingly quick stand-up, as his new show, Still Live 1999, demonstrates. In the past, he has directed his automatic fire at rocket salad, Quorn, and people who've given up smoking.

Leicester Jongleurs (0845 6081818) Tue; Cambridge Junction (01223 511 511) Wed; Woodville Halls Theatre, Gravesend (01474 337459) Thur

Ed Byrne

Like Tommy Tiernan, who was the eventual winner of the award last year, Perrier nominee Ed Byrne is a top-notch yarn-spinner. Few others could talk for a full hour about celebrating a special occasion with their girlfriend by going to a performance of Cosi fan tutte - or, as he puts it, being "forced to sit through three and a half hours of crap because it's our anniversary".

Talk of London (0171-387 2414) Wed to Sat 20 Feb

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