Julian Hall's Festival diary

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* Andrew Marr was asked at the Book Festival if he would prefer to be stuck on an island with Sarah Brown (right) or Cherie Blair. "I don't know Sarah Brown very well so I would have to say her," he replied. Marr also told of how he once bumped into the Blairs, when the future PM was on holiday in Scotland. "He was bemoaning his decision to go into politics," Marr recalled. "He thought that [then Labour leader] John Smith and his project were going nowhere – a few weeks later he was sadly proved right when Smith died."

* Attending Ed Aczel's Free Fringe gig, Jimmy Carr found himself the subject of a zany quiz. "Jimmy Carr is the comedy equivalent of which one of the following US presidents: JFK, LBJ, FDR or Richard Nixon?" asked Aczel. The "answer" was Nixon, because "both were impeached, left office in disgrace and prolonged an unnecessary war." Aczel competed in Carr's "Comedy Idol" competition in 2005.

* Norman Mailer, stand-up comedian? One of the least expected comics of the Fringe said at the Book Festival: "A man met the monitoring angel and was asked what he wanted to come back as. He replied: 'A black athlete.' The monitoring angel said: 'I'm sorry, we're out of black athletes. Everybody wants to come back as a black athlete. The bad news is we have you down as a cockroach – the good news is we'll make you the fastest cockroach.'"

* The Fringe's most tender moments include the drunk man who hugged a poster of Jim Jeffries while shouting "I love you, Jim". And John Bishop's show includes a film of his pet dog, who has a canine form of MS. Bishop has fitted a set of stabiliser wheels to his hind legs.

* Special, Fecund Theatre's show about S&M relationships, experienced some hands-on audience participation this week. One of the Assembly Universal Arts venue's staff had to reprimand a couple for "getting it on" in the back row.

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