Julian Hall

Julian has been the comedy critic for The Independent since 2003. He is also the author of The Rough Guide to British Cult Comedy, www.textualhealing.co.uk

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Simon Amstell: Numb, Hexagon Theatre, Reading

A random spurt of smoke from a dry ice machine precedes Simon Amstell's appearance on the stage of the Reading Hexagon tonight. It's a mistake, of course. The wily charms of the 32 year old are not requiring of a pumped pomp, nor of any other obvious theatrics.

The Humorist, By Russell Kane

A smart comedian brings off that tricky first novel with energy and wit.

Brilliant! The Fast Show's quickfire comics return

Lovers of The Fast Show will be heartened to know that the release of a second batch of internet-only episodes is due next week.

Frank Skinner and Friends, Noel Coward Theatre, London

Nobody should have been surprised by the news that the 55-year old comedian Frank Skinner is to become a father, after all, he’s never lost the glint in his eye. Grey-haired he may be, and perhaps a little bit more stately at times, the veteran joker can still nurture an audience.

Festival of the Spoken Nerd,
Bloomsbury Theatre, London

If there was a theme to Festival of the Spoken Nerd's mix of science and comedy tonight then it was pyrotechnics. From a tale of homemade napalm to a demonstration of a standing wave flame tube there were flashes and bangs aplenty, if no explosive end result.

Simon Munnery: Hats Off To The 101ers, And Other Material, Soho Theatre, London

“The arch of limited triumph” says the mild-mannered Simon Munnery in the direction of a concertinaed piece of metal on stage.

Stand Up and Rock, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Comedy and rock n' roll persistently get paired for the comparative superlative “comedy is the new rock n' roll” and tonight they were again bedfellows.

Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, Bloomsbury Theatre, London

"It's not overlong, it's value for money!" exclaimed Robin Ince at the end of the second night of his third series of seasonal rationalist jamborees, celebrations that are akin to the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures with jingle bells on.

Russell Kane: Manscaping, Hammersmith Apollo, London (4/5)

It was typical of the self-aware, self-referential and self-deprecating “third Russell of comedy” to acknowledge that the X Factor final had taken a slither out of his audience share tonight.

Soho Theatre Comedy Cabaret (3/5)

Imagine Whose Line Is It Anyway? applied to stand up and you have the gist of Set List, a Stateside wheeze landing in London via a stopover in Edinburgh. That cultural comparative was made all the more resonant tonight with the inclusion of the improv-savvy Greg Proops and Phil Jupitus among the stellar line up.

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