Praying for laughs: Viv Groskop on the funny women who inspired her own stand-up career

Why would a well-balanced, perfectly sane woman approaching middle age suddenly decide to become a stand-up comedian? And why would she then subject herself to playing 100 gigs in 100 nights? Blame the women who paved the way: the TV comedy goddesses of an earlier age.

Comedy of the week: Balham Comedy Festival, Bedford, London SW12

Thanks largely to the efforts of (top banana) David Vickers, the Banana Cabaret has become one of London's best-loved comedy nights – and a tasty-looking bunch are lined up for its sophomore festival.

Dotcom boom: Simon Amstell on stage earlier this year at the Invisible Dot

The Invisible Dot: How has one of the country's smallest comedy venues become an industry powerhouse?

It might be tiny but it attracts big stars and manages to discover major talents. Alice Jones investigates

Alex Horne: The stand-up comedian and band-leader talks sharks, beards and going on the run

I've always been scared of fish Specifically sharks, because of watching Jaws when I was to young. I'm hoping I was 10. I think I might have been 15. I trod on a dead fish a couple of years later and it floated to the surface and stared at me. I still have a residual fear of the sea. I'm more than happy to devour fish, mind. Just don't want them to eat me.

Having a laugh: Jessica Hynes

Life's amazeballs for Twenty Twelve's Jessica Hynes

She lost out to co-star Olivia Colman at the Baftas, but Jessica Hynes has lots to keep her happy, including two new sitcoms and a possible Twenty Twelve spin-off.

Cultural Life: Miranda Hart, Comedian

Comedy: I have been watching the HBO series Girls. It's my latest box set. It's extraordinary. Lena Dunham not only writes and stars in it but also directs it. Which is incredibly brave of her, but makes complete sense as it's totally her vision. And it's fantastic that a network has let her creativity flourish without interference. We need more of that in TV.

'Show Guy': actor and comedian Will Adamsdale

A class act: Will Adamsdale satirises the angst-ridden middle classes in his surreal new show

Adamsdale was an actor who became a comedian by mistake. Alice Jones meets him.

Well suited to the stage: comedian Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari: The Twitter comedian who always steals the show

Rising comedy talent and social media favourite Aziz Ansari is fast becoming a film star. Sarah Hughes meets him

Reginald D Hunter goes to dangerous places

Game for a laugh: The PFA awards furore was a joke – and Reginald D Hunter makes the most of it

It was the night the beautiful game showed the race card. So how did the comedian at the centre of the storm move on? Paul Taylor applauds a dangerously funny man

Comedian of the week: Daniel Kitson, various venues

A year after Daniel Kitson relieved himself of his trademark locks and beard for the exquisite Where Once Was Wonder, a show about identity (Kitson was worried that his had been hijacked and appropriated as some sort of left-field brand), the master storyteller, comedian and dispenser of quiet wisdom returns.

Marcus Brigstocke's new show, 'Je M'accuse - I am Marcus' lays his personal life bare

Marcus Brigstocke: 'I'm the most interesting subject I have at the moment'

The comedian talks, for the first time, about why he's mining his life for laughs

Comedy of the week: Machynlleth Comedy Festival, various venues

This little stunner of a festival in the Powys market town of Machynlleth boasts an almost indecently good line-up over three days.

Comedy of the week: Return of the Lumberjacks, various venues

Fifteen years ago, this lovely bunch of Canadian fellers (snigger) arrived at the Edinburgh Fringe as fresh-faced newbies on the UK comedy scene; now ensconced over here, they're among the most enjoyable acts doing the rounds.

Under pressure: Andrew Hankinson takes to the stage at the Comedy Cellar

Seinfeld, Louis CK and me: A masterclass in stand-up at New York's Comedy Cellar

New York's Comedy Cellar is the club of choice for the world's best stand-ups. No pressure then, for Andrew Hankinson, as he takes a masterclass and hits the stage for his first (and last) gig.

Hullabaloo: Mark Watson, Doc Brown, Danny Bhoy and Ed Byrne will be performing

Heads Up: The Comedy Hullabaloo

Much hullabaloo about nothing? The RSC plays it for laughs

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