COMEDY

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"Stand Up for the Dockers" is at the Hackney Empire, London, E8 (0181-985 2424) tonight, 8pm. pounds 8/pounds 6 concs

Let's all do the timewarp. Audiences tonight will be transported back to the heyday of 1980s political comedy with "Stand Up For the Dockers" at the Hackney Empire. The line-up for this benefit for the Liverpool dockers reads like a Who's Who of committed comedians: Sean Hughes, Mark Thomas, Mark Steel and Kevin Day, and compere for the night Rob Newman. Also on the bill is Jeremy Hardy, whose right-on radio show, Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation, must be setting some sort of record for complaints from Radio 4 listeners.

Roland Muldoon, artistic director of the Hackney Empire, opines that: "For me, the real value of comedy has always been when it's pertinent. I've got bored with it recently; it's all been about the size of people's willies. This show is from the whole tradition of our involvement with stand-up comedy. In the 1970s and 1980s these sort of shows were quite a regular occurrence. The Hackney Empire was almost built on the back of the Miners' Strike. The ethos, the push for popular entertainment coincided with it. We're no strangers to the idea." Perhaps, he muses, it is also a reaction against the feeling that "Comedy has gone to the right with all the New Lads taking over. In the late 1980s, comedy had lost its edge with all that `comedy is the new rock'n'roll' stuff. This proves that that needn't be the case."

So come to this throwback night and relive your youth.

EYE ON THE NEW

Simon B Cotter. No less a paper than the Hamilton Spectator says of this Canadian comedian making his UK debut this week: "If you cross Bill Cosby's story-telling with Bob Newhart's wit and add John Belushi's energy, you get Simon B Cotter". High praise indeed. His spring tour begins tomorrow at H G Wells, Woking and continues at the Oxford Comedy Stage on Monday

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