COMEDY

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Armstrong and Miller may sound like a pair of famous musicians, but they are actually a pair of soon-to-befamous comedians. Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller are riding on the crest of the sketch-comedy wave. The genre is not quite back to its Beyond the Fringe heyday, but business is certainly booming for those who sketch for a living.

Perrier Award nominees at the Edinburgh Festival last summer, Armstrong and Miller have already made the big leap into the TV pond. They were one of the few positive things to emerge from LWT's otherwise forgettable Saturday Live, performing with panache as Strijka (pronounced "Streaker"), Norway's third-most-popular rock band.

Touting dissonant bandanas and even more dissonant Scandinavian accents, they crooned their way through songs that would have struggled to win "nul points" at the Eurovision Song Contest. "If you're cooped up like a chicken," they emoted, "you lose your feathers and make a suicide".

Now they are making a series for the Paramount cable and satellite channel, to be broadcast next month. Sketches will include "Nude Practice", about a clothes-less veterinary officer in the Peak District. They'll no doubt have their own Channel 4 series before you can say "the new Two Ronnies".

Also worth keeping an eye on this year is another sketch outfit, the League of Gentlemen. The three performers - Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss and Steve Pemberton - have a distinctly cruel streak in their humour. They don't zap you with punchlines, just a sharp eye for the grotesque. In one scene, a gloomy Welsh mortuary attendant reflects on his job: "People think I must have a morbid sense of humour to work here. I'm very fond of Arthur Askey. None of this modern rubbish."

Look no further for The Next Big Thing.

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