Johnny Vegas is a fading, drunken entertainer, whose prop of choice is a potter's wheel. He was nominated for a Perrier Award at this year's Edinburgh Festival and the left-field originality of his act is about to hit London

The posters proclaim that "pottery's the new rock'n'roll", and judging by the hype for the stand-up potter Johnny Vegas in Edinburgh, there may well be something in that. Within days of the Festival opening, his weird and wonderful show had attained the much-sought-after status of "the hottest ticket in town". A Perrier nomination soon followed.

It's not hard to see why. Vegas demands attention on the grounds of originality alone - where else would the throwing of a pot form the focal-point of a stand-up act? But more than that, this man-mountain in a Kevin Keegan circa 1977 hairdo, battered brown leather jacket and silver-seamed flares is bizarrely charismatic.

Playing the part of a fading, drunken entertainer, he sounds off about the way the world has mistreated him. "Comedy is like marrying your cousin," he rails. "Do you listen to your critics or your heart?"

Reinforcing the sense of strangeness, Vegas frequently lapses into the most mannered imagery. "Love's a postman," he tells a woman in the audience he's schmoozing, "and you've got a vicious dog called Pride." On another occasion, he pleads for our co-operation: "I hold the mike, but you make the magic. At the moment, you're not doing a very good impression of little Debbie McGee."

Though his aggression and metaphorical language can wear thin, Vegas succeeds in building up a compelling picture of a performer on the verge of a breakdown.

His sole redemption comes though pottery. In a striking coup de theatre, he brings on a potter's wheel and starts to mould a jug. As he caresses the clay lasciviously over a female volunteer's shoulder to the accompaniment of the music from Ghost, he asks: "Have you ever, ever seen anything as sexy in your whole life?"

Inviting audiences to return - "Comedy's a campfire, please, please come and be warmed" - he ends by beckoning them on stage, climbing onto the wheel and leading them through a rousing singalong version of "New York, New York".

Thanks to its monotonous use on television interludes, the potter's wheel used to be a symbol of boredom.

Not any more.

The Johnny Vegas Show is in the Perrier Pick of the Fringe at the Talk of London, Parker St, WC2 (0171-494 5490) 6, 20 & 24 Oct

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