Nica Burns, the director of the Perrier, explains why Irish comedians are so prominent: "They've always been terrific writers, but now it's turning into an oral tradition. The trail has been blazed by people like Sean Hughes, Dylan Moran and Ardal O'Hanlon."
The latest Irish stand-up to be catching critics' eyes is Michael Smiley. The former anchor man on TV's Naked City, Smiley's chief strength is as a raconteur. Last summer at Edinburgh, he based his whole show around his experiences as a bicycle courier. He shares a strong bill with Ricky Grover, Jack Russell and Alan Francis.
The Improv Club, London W1 (0171-387 2414) Fri
THE BEST OF THE REST
Simon Munnery, the comedian responsible for the ranting uber- entertainer, The League Against Tedium, outlines his inspiration: "I wanted to create this bizarre being - a mad, Nietzschean, camp superman. People say they want something different, so I'm providing it. You don't want to seem dull and normal. What's funny about that?" He begins a six-week residency this week.
Monday Club, Madame Jo Jo's, London W1 (0171-371 6863) every Mon
The world's most tragically inept entertainer, John Shuttleworth, makes for a sharp parody of failed showbiz aspirations. His new tour, "Ken's Karvery" - featuring such classic songs as "Life is Like a Salad Bar (You Only Get One Visit)" - opens this Friday in Harrogate, but you can already book tickets for his London dates.
Harrogate Theatre (01423 502116) Fri; Bloomsbury Theatre, London WC1 (0171-388 8822) 26-30 Jan