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COMEDY With James Rampton

Owen O'Neill's `Shouting from the Scaffold' is at the Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead (01442 242287) tonight and Warwick Arts Centre (01203 523734) on 24 April. Owen O'Neill is also appearing in the `Best of Irish Night' at the Comedy Store, London (0171-344 4444) on St Patrick's Day, 17 Mar

Owen O'Neill's show, Shouting from the Scaffold, could easily be retitled "My Life as a Brickie". It tells tall tales from the days before stand- up stardom, when O'Neill was a naive 17-year-old from the backwoods of Cookstown, Co Tyrone, over in London earning a none-too-salubrious living as a hod-carrier. Once he had worked the experiences into an one-and-a- half-hour monologue, he found that audiences could latch onto the universal idea of workplace grief. "Even people who don't work on a building site get something from it," he reckons. "Being in a job that you don't like and trying to get out of it - everyone can relate to that."

They can also identify with such larger-than-life characters as Rubber George and Pat the Dog. "People believe they're real," O'Neill reflects. "This guy's called Rubber George because he falls off the scaffolding all the time and never injures himself. I knew someone like that in Chiswick - he fell off five times, and always landed in the sand or in a skip. People would like to be like that themselves - totally indestructible and drinking a lot." Shouting from the Scaffold may have its roots in reality, but it branches off into the realms of artistic extravagance. "I like to stretch everything," O'Neill confirms. "Good stories are just exaggerations of the truth."


Simon Day, of The Fast Show fame, has been described as the `Harry Enfield for the millennium' by one newspaper. A canny character comedian, he flourishes favourites like the Music Hall Legend, Tommy Cockles, and pub know-all, Billy Bleach.

Bedford Corn Exchange (01234 269 519) Fri