COMEDY: PICK OF THE WEEK: Ed Byrne tonight & tomorrow Derby Assembly Rooms & Warwick Arts Centre

If you need any proof about how big Ed Byrne has become as a live attraction, look no further than the fact that he is currently in the middle of a major 44-date tour. You don't embark on a nationwide jaunt of that magnitude without hefty support from the public. He is touring with a vibrant new show, "Me Again", which was a sell-out at the Edinburgh Festival last summer.

Like his fellow Irish stand-ups Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan and Owen O'Neill, Byrne is a highly skilled graduate of the rambling school of comedy. His material flows in a likeable, meandering way, rather than coming out as a rat-tat-tat attack of one-liners. But don't be deceived by the casual appearance: he is always in complete control on stage. As The Independent put it, Byrne is "a master of the comic diversion and `strange but true' observations that catch audiences squarely under the ribcage".

Derby Assembly Rooms, Market Place (01332 255800) tonight, 8pm, pounds 12; Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry (02476 524524) tomorrow, 7.30pm, pounds 12

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