James Rampton on comedy

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Jack Dee achieved what very few people thought was possible: he made stand-up work on television. From his Channel 4 show flowed projects of varying advisability (Jack Dee's Saturday Night, Jack and Jeremy's Real Lives) and a highly-lucrative advertising campaign for beer. Dee (below) has become so busy with all these television vehicles that live appearances are now something of a rarity, an event, even.

There is no doubt, however, that he's still got it as a stand-up. Dressed in his trademark three-piece suit which makes him look like a City gent who just happens to have wandered scowling onto the stage, Dee's miserablist tendency stance continues to hold audiences spell-bound. His (unsmiling) face is his fortune.

"There was a point early on when I thought, 'I should be more chirpy', but it didn't work out at all," he told me recently. "It was only when I relied upon myself as a couldn't-care-less type of character with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude to the delivery that it began to work... I've always said you'll never laugh as you laughed in class. I try to recreate that sense of forbidding the audience to laugh, which I do through the deadpan delivery. Forbidden laughter is the most precious and the deepest."

Jack Dee is appearing in 'The Jo Brand Show' at the Comedy Store, Oxendon St, London WC2 (0171-344 4444) on Mon