California dreaming: Stephen Merchant on love, short actors and orthodontics in Los Angeles

His new sitcom is about a gawky Brit struggling to find romance in Los Angeles. A case of art imitating life? Yes, says the comedian. And no…

Stand-ups are made for sitcom? Don’t make me laugh

While I am a fan of Alan Carr’s stand-up work, it was a relief to hear that he had shelved plans to write and star in his own sitcom. It was due to centre on a professional dog walker but he abandoned it after discovering that Getting On duo Vicki Pepperdine and Joanna Scanlan had got to the idea first with Puppy Love, their new series for BBC4.

Comedy of the week: Russell Brand: The Messiah Complex, various venues

Most of us still don't quite know how to feel about Russell Brand: one minute he's the irksome epitome of strutting narcissism (granted, there's probably a bit of jealousy at play, the swarthy devil); the next, like some god of the liberal-minded, he's making clear-eyed proclamations on the Woolwich murders and scything down Hugo Boss for their Nazi connections.

Comedy festival of the week: Brighton Comedy Festival, various venues

Friday's Opening Night Gala (Alan Carr, Jack Dee, Jon Richardson, Kevin Bridges...) announces the Brighton Comedy Festival for what it is: a big, brassy bash with an unashamed eye on the top dogs.

Gorman picks apart techniques of the news media in his latest series ‘Modern Life is Goodish’

Dave Gorman: A comedian with a serious message about our modern media overkill

It’s the information age – so why is there so much misinformation around? Dave Gorman searches for the truth with Ian Burrell

Coming soon in stand-up comedy: from Adam Hills to Sarah Millican

Laugh out loud new shows on the road this autumn

Comedy of the week: Brian Appleton, various venues

With his domestic philosopher John Shuttleworth back in Sheffield, fretting over whether to plump for cake or a biscuit with a cup of tea, Graham Fellows revives another of his sublime creations.

No angel: Russell Brand’s new show asks whether the modern age needs heroes

Heads Up: Russell Brand's Messiah Complex

He's not the Messiah - he's a very naughty stand-up comedian

Comedy of the week: Steve Hughes, various venues

Wielding a far bigger stick than he ever did in his days as a heavy-metal drummer, Steve Hughes sets off on the scent of social and political scheming on his latest tour, While It's Still Legal.

Yes: John Bishop £50,000

Corporate gigs: Which comedians take the funny money?

Many comics pay their way with corporate gigs, says Veronica Lee. But they’re not for everyone...

Clowning around: Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Phil Burgers' workshops are a hit with fellow comedians

With stand-up dominated by the one-comic-and-a mic-form of observational humour, it's little wonder that some comedians are seeking more alternative modes of expression to set themselves apart. The Boy with Tape On His Face distinguishes himself with a joyously retro presentation of silent, performance-led humour, while the bestowal of the Edinburgh Comedy Award on Phil Burgers last year, for his mute, sexualised and playfully scary bouffon Dr Brown, echoed and endorsed the stand-up circuit's burgeoning interest in clowning.

Comedian Lenny Henry: 'Richard Pryor will always be my hero'

Ahead of a new documentary on the groundbreaking funny man, Lenny Henry tells how he idolised – and copied – the star

My Edinburgh: Doc Brown, comedian

I feel something of a sham writing a piece on "My Edinburgh" this year. I am "doing" Edinburgh, a bit like Prince Harry "did" Glastonbury. I spent the first three quarters of the fest doing my fair share of sweating – mainly from the searing heat of the Caribbean, blogging for the Jamaica Tourist Board (those blogs don't write themselves) while my comic peers risked trenchfoot and mouldy lungs in the squalid basements of dampridden Scottish boozers. And now I rock up for the final week, rolling out my new show with the type of positive energy one feels after a vigorous massage.

Lost in laughter: the audience at a stand-up gig

Judging a comedy award is no laughing matter

Jokes about racism, porn, cystitis... you get all sorts on the Fringe. But how do you spot the next big thing in stand-up? Alice Jones, a judge on this year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards panel, explains

Dan Skinner

My Edinburgh: Dan Skinner on the wonderful, glorious, unholy mess that is the Fringe

The Edinburgh festival is like the Death Star. You can try and escape, but you are eventually, inevitably, dragged back in by its powerful magnetic force. I am preparing to ‘go up’ again, to use the industry parlance. I decided two years ago that I wouldn’t for a good long while, but I went up last year as a punter and I’m going up again this year to perform in a show called Classic Entertainment Starring Mr Winchester and Tommy! Since you’re asking. It’s on at The Pleasance at 8.20. Since you’re asking.

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