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The Independent Culture
Mark Lamarr Fri

Mark Lamarr is one of the best off-the-cuff comedians in the business. "Every night there'll be something different happening that only you will see," he says. "I hate watching those `fourth-wall' comedians who do a monologue and then leave. That's just treating the audience with contempt."

His proven ability to think on his feet makes Lamarr among the most in- demand comperes on the circuit. So he is a good choice to host "The Best of the New Act of the Year '99" show tonight at the Hackney Empire.

Lamarr will be introducing this year's winner, the laid-back Liverpudlian Anton, and other finalists, including Daniel Kitson, Paul Sinha, Danny Troy, Helen da Silva, Steve Morrison and Christopher J Hawkins. Go and see the stars of the future.

Hackney Empire, London E8 (0181-985 2424) tonight


Junior Simpson

Junior Simpson admits that he's confused. "I can't call myself Jamaican because I wasn't born there, and I can't call myself British because I'm not an athlete. People of colour have had to suffer 400 years of slavery, 500 years of apartheid, and four years of Ainsley Harriot on television." This sharp-talking stand-up heads Thursday's bill in Croydon.

The Upfront Comedy Club. Croydon Clocktower (0181-253 1030) Thur

Felix Dexter

Although his act plays on the comic aspects of race, Felix Dexter doesn't want to be seen as having only a limited appeal. "Richard Pryor is never described as a black comedian," observes Dexter. "He's just thought of as a comic genius." At the "Double Laughter" show on Friday, Dexter is on an impressive bill which includes the accomplished Curtis Walker and the highly promising Gina Yashere. Stratford Rex, London E15 (0181-215 6003) Fri