James Rampton on comedy

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The Independent Culture
Simon Day does character comedy rather than straight stand-up. "I'm a bit envious of comedians who can come on and say, `Isn't it strange the way people today...?'," he admits. "I've got to put on wigs to get laughs." But it hardly matters when his wigs help create characters as good as Tommy Cockles, Competitive Dad, The Man in the Pub, Monkfish and Carl Hooper.

For those with better things to do with their Friday nights, all those characters have appeared in BBC2's sketch programme, The Fast Show, which has just ended its second series. It has attracted a healthily cultish following. "It caught the public imagination and got trendy," Day (below left) reflects. "It was watched by a lot of people who don't usually watch BBC2 - people in pubs, and builders. A lot of the success came from the quickness of the sketches. People have a short attention span."

Not so short, however, as to have missed Day's characterisations - they are now flocking in to see him repeat them live. So far on tour they have been shouting out various Fast Show catchphrases (like "suits you, sir") at the comedian - which is fine by him. "When I do the Man in the Pub," Day says, "the audience are pleased. Before they realise he's not funny, I've done 10 minutes and they're still saying, `He's up there and we've seen him on the telly'."

Simon Day's national tour continues at St George's Theatre Luton (01582 21628) tomorrow and Library Theatre Manchester (0161-236 7110) Sun

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