Mark Wareham on comedy

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The Independent Culture
Sunday's Perrier Pick of the Fringe features a high-value dream-teaming of two of the circuit's tastiest stand-ups, both of whom reaped the reward at this year's Edinburgh for moving beyond the narrow confines of straight stand-up.

Boothby Graffoe, previously renowned chiefly for being the only comedian named after a town in Lincolnshire, was the red-hot Perrier favourite from the outset, despite the fact that he (whisper it) juggles, only to be pipped at the post by Jenny Eclair. Graffoe's show falls into two distinct halves - a hotch-potch of rambling idiocy, politics and smut held together by his sinister smile, followed by the unveiling of a grungey kitchen set within which there lurk a thousand-and-one dazzling visual gags. The set, impressive enough within the confines of Edinburgh's Pleasance Two, should come into its own on the ampler stage of Her Majesty's. Graffoe is the kind of man who sits on the draining board trying to make friends with his saucepans. His laborious attention to detail is taken to such frightening lengths that it leaves you questioning his sanity; but not that of his promoters, who have just won him a two-sitcom deal in the States on the back of his triumphant showing at the Montreal Comedy Festival. One of the shows will, we're reliably informed, be a "Jack Benny Show for the Nineties".

Simon Bligh (left) was the surprise package among the Perrier nominees. Essentially an energetic and highly engaging stand-up, he chose to go the way of the likes of Nick Revell by turning to monologue. Banzai tells the tale of a Liverpool boy's obsession with all things Japanese, a longing which finally comes to fruition in the form of an Asian odyssey that proves both life- affirming and sweet in the telling.

Her Majesty's, Haymarket, London SW1 (0171-494 5500) 8pm Sun 22 Oct, pounds 5-pounds 12.50

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