First Night: The Secret Policeman's Ball, The Albert Hall

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The Independent Culture

Some of the acts in last night's benefit for Amnesty International were not the first you might think of for a show in favour of human rights. Al Murray's pub landlord, for instance, gave his impression of a German publican: "Mit salad?" he inquired and threw a handful of sauerkraut in the customer's face.

Others, however, seemed free of any political baggage: the members of The Mighty Boosh fenced with words, then swords, then ran in terror from several giant rabbits.

The grim real world was never far away, though. Two confused holiday makers, on a visit to what they thought was the resort town of Guantanamo Bay posed for a souvenir photo on all fours, with black bags over their heads.

Russell Brand, his coiffure bobbing about as he flicked the microphone cord like a whip, ranted furiously against The Sun and its readers. One of them, who wanted Ian Huntley sent to Iraq, he characterised as "an oxygen thief".

Much of the humour was post-post-watershed, but the audience most enjoyed itself when the form shifted to a much older one than satire. When Murray thundered that if we weren't careful the bloody Euros would creep up on us, an enormous Euro coin rolled on stage. The punters chorused, "Look behind you!" But before he could, it rolled away. An exasperated Murray turned to berate the audience, only to see it delighted. Behind him there had trotted on a pantomime horse.