James Rampton on comedy

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The Independent Culture
After several visits to these shores, the American stand-up Rich Hall (right) now feels as at home in Britain as he does in the States. "I feel lost in America, too," he reveals. "It was Elvis Costello who said, `home is wherever you hang your head'. I can stare at a lot of pavements here just as well as in the States." It's this sense of bewilderment with the world that appeals to audiences. "I'm completely unslick," Hall avers. "My approach is to come up on stage and start babbling until a path is formed. It takes me about 10 minutes to create a certain atmosphere. I figure something will come out, and once the audience is into the rhythm, they'll go with me." Hall made his name in the US as a writer and performer on Late Night with David Letterman, but lately he's found that comedians take a lower precedence on America's top talk show. "The evolutionary ladder there goes: Shakespearean actors, movie stars, TV stars, people who spin plates, mime artists, country-and-western singers, comedians - then Michael Bolton." Still, he's topping the bill this weekend at the Cochrane when, he predicts, "I'm gonna tell the millionth joke of my career - I keep a count of them all. There's a marching-band and a baker with a cake standing by."

Rich Hall is at the Cochrane Theatre, Southampton Row, London WC1 (0171- 242 7040) at 8pm tonight and tomorrow

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