James Rampton on comedy

Liverpool is traditionally seen as a hotbed of humour - an impression reinforced by the Euro Comedy 96 Festival currently taking place in the city. But local comedian Terry Titter (below), who is hosting shows during the Festival, and who recently won an award from the Liverpool Echo as Comedian of the Year, dismisses the popular image of his home town as a "tired myth". "It seems that because of the Liver Birds, Bread, Jimmy Tarbuck and Cilla Black, people think everyone in Liverpool is a comedian. But I don't think people here are any funnier than in Newcastle, Edinburgh or Leeds. I find it a hindrance. I get a groan from people when they hear I'm from Liverpool. They think, 'Oh no, not another cheeky, chirpy Scouser'. You've got a lot of baggage to get past."

Titter, who will be playing alongside the likes of Lee Evans, Paul Tonkinson and Alistair McGowan during the Festival, is a spoof end-of-the-pier act. "Terry Titter is old-fashioned, a knackered old comedian," he reckons. "The top line of my poster says, 'Unexpectedly available for anything... Terry Titter is crap... Always ready with a song and a smile just when you don't want one.' It's anti-publicity, that old trick of being laughed at rather than with. I trawl the back of the stage for old material. Delivered by a young person pretending to be old, it takes on a new life. After the political material of the 1980s, comedy has swung back to something silly and theatrical. It's all about a joke for a joke's sake, and no axe to grind. Nobody's got to do any head work with me."

Festival details from the Everyman (0151-708 0338), the Neptune (0151- 225 4455) and the Unity (0151-709 6502)

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