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COMEDY With James Rampton
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The Independent Culture
Sarge opens the Newcastle Comedy Festival at the Live Theatre (0191-232 1232) next Friday

Like most Americans, Sarge is tickled by the quaintness of British life. "Why does the Queen carry a handbag?" he asks down the line from his home in LA. "What does she have in there? A cellphone? Does she have to show ID when she goes to a club? Does she hand the guy a coin and say, `this is me'?" He is also wide-eyed about the fact that "your cops don't even carry guns. Kids in grade school here have guns. We send our adults to jail to learn to read, and our kids to school to learn how to carry guns." Sarge - the nickname comes from the Beetle Bailey comic-strip, his real name is Steven Pickman - is making his first trip to these shores to headline on the opening night of the fourth annual Newcastle Comedy Festival. "English friends over here have asked, `Why Newcastle? Why not Arkansas.' " He describes his on-stage style as "a throwback, I'm an old-school comedian. I'm an attitude comic rather than an insult comic. I'm the kinda guy that can tell you there's something in your nostril and you won't be offended. I'm annoying and loving at the same time. I'm a beneficent dictator."

EYE ON THE NEW

In this era of X Files mania, it's high time we had a spoof psychic show - so bring on the felicitously titled Uri Geller Stopped My Clock. Mind- reader Ian Keable and Danny Buckler aim to show the myths in mysticism.

Canal Cafe Theatre, London W2 (0171-289 6054) to 2 Nov

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