Rob Newman is appearing with Lee Hurst, Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard, Steve Coogan, and others on a 42-strong bill, 'The Dirty Three and a Half Dozen', a benefit in aid of the Liverpool Dockers at the London Palladium (0171-494 5058), tomorrow 7pm

Rob Newman was in danger of heading for the "Where are they now?" columns. After the ripsnorting success he had in tandem with David Baddiel - they remain the only comedians ever to sell out Wembley Arena - Newman went off to spend more time with his novels. After his first, Dependence Day, was published a couple of years ago, not much was heard of him. Until now. In recent months, he has been at various benefits, reminding people that he is an intelligent and imaginative stand-up.

Tomorrow, he appears at a concert in aid of the striking Liverpool dockers. "Their dispute is at the heart of what's happening politically," Newman observes, "but it hasn't got any media coverage. This should start a discussion on the casualisation of labour."

At another benefit for the dockers at the Hackney Empire, Jarvis, Newman's politically incorrect sexual predator in a velvet smoking-jacket, brought the house down. The only glitch was that "some of the social workers at Fortress Hackney didn't like him. But I told them, 'You're worried I'm queering your pitch,' and that got a laugh." Whenever the audience laughed, he continues, "I spoilt it by running around, punching the air and shouting, 'Yeah, I can still do it!' People had to say to me, 'Rob, you're still on stage'."

Now he can't envisage kicking the stand-up habit: "Whenever I say 'Never again,' you'll cut to me in a revolving bow-tie and clown trousers on stage at the Preston Guildhall saying, 'but seriously, folks'."

EYE ON THE NEW

A St Patrick's Day Special at the Comedy Store, London (0171-344 4444) on Monday. John Moloney hosts a top-class line-up featuring Ed Byrne, Owen O'Neill, Tommy Tiernan, Kevin Hayes and Kevin Gildea.

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