2013 - the year in review: The best comedy of the year

 

"Bo Burnham: What", Pleasance Grand, Edinburgh Fringe, August

Firing on all cylinders, the 23-year-old American boy wonder’s return to the UK slew all before him. So slick as to leave one  almost numb with awe, Burnham  unleashed his inner voices to great effect. He clowned, he rhymed, he sang; a neurotic post-modern variety act for the social media generation.

"Louis CK", The 02, London, March

Riding the momentum of his popular stand up / sitcom cross-over Louie, CK added his name to the 02’s comedy roll call of big beasts. And what a fine addition he was, effortlessly ranging over the  benignly bewildered world of a middle-aged American; older, wiser and at the peak of his powers.

"Russell Brand: Messiah Complex", Birmingham Symphony Hall, October

Brand’s Messiah Complex mixed the self-deprecating with the self-aggrandising more effectively than he’d done for some time. The tour was universally well-received, more than could be said for his subsequent poo-pooing of the electoral system.

"Paul F Tompkins: Crying and Driving", Soho Theatre, London, April

Low key, poised, classy; the 44-year-old American came to town last spring and charmed us with a gentle-but-deft set based around making his way through the world and tackling his apparent inability “to do life”.

"Monty Python Press Conference", Playhouse Theatre, London, November

Sure, in 2014 it could be my pick for turkey of the year, but let us at least dream that the remaining Pythons can deliver next year at the 02. “They clearly don’t like each other” was one assessment of their November press conference, but from what I saw there was still plenty of cheese left in the shop.

Discovery of the year

"London Sketchfest", Victorian Vaults, London, May

Sketchfest was a nifty lift of a US idea, pitting a number of sketch groups against each other in competition. The standard was high, though the format needs a little revision in terms of time onstage. I hope to see it back next year, it helped alleviate my dread of sketch and showcased a number of good acts including The Pin, Rory and Tim and Thünderbards.

Turkey of the year

"Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure", Brighton Centre, May

Things can only get better again, surely? After the well received return of Stripped in 2008, reviving his fortunes from 2003’s not so alluring Sexie, Izzard’s live renaissance lost momentum again. Force Majeure’s gravitas deficit was due in part to Izzard’s simplistic political grandstanding which he should leave for his attempt to become a candidate for London Mayor.

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
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Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
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Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
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Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
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X Factor contestant Fleur East
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Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
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Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
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On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
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The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
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Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

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Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

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J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

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Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
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Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
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Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
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Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
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New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
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Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

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Polly Morgan

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The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

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The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

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