The hottest ticket in comedy? Comedians' favourite is set to return

He has been called the comedian's comedian, a 21st-century raconteur who avoids the limelight by shunning profile-raising TV work. Now Daniel Kitson is returning to stand-up after a three-year absence, sparking a frenzy for tickets to watch him test his fresh material.

Prior to taking his new creation, Where Once Was Wonder, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August, the comic is playing a series of gigs at The Hob in south-east London. Despite no advertising from the intimate venue, all 12 dates in February and March sold out in less than half an hour.

Audiences expecting warm, observational comedy such as that espoused by the likes of Michael McIntyre may be disappointed, as Yorkshire-born Kitson is notorious for the intellectual demands he makes on an audience.

"I'm not yet entirely sure what it's about," he told fans in an email. "I think it's likely to be about change and impossibility and defiance and inevitability all topped off with lashings of arrogance and self-doubt. I've not written a stand-up show since the start of 2009, or any new show at all since July 2010."

Susannah Henry, who provided sets for Kitson's previous shows, confirmed she was meeting with the Perrier Award-winning comedian this week. Performing intimate shows is typical of Kitson's desire to shun the limelight.

He has avoided TV work for the last decade, saying he doesn't see an Edinburgh Festival slot "as a tacit audition for a Channel 5 pilot". When he won a Comedian's Comedian poll last year, admirer and fellow comedian Stewart Lee claimed he'd made a deliberate attempt to downsize his audience. "Kitson once told me that he was doing a run at the Soho Theatre," he said. "Sitting in a toilet cubicle one night, he overheard some of his audience at the urinals talking, didn't like them and realised he would have to refine his fan base."