James Rampton on comedy

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Cricket fan Mark Steel is the John Emburey of alternative comedy: the seasoned campaigner who never lets the side down. Steel (below) has been ploughing his furrow on the circuit for many years now, without ever receiving the acclaim of, say, Rory Bremner (with whom Steel shared bills in the early days). But his longevity is proof of his reliability; he wouldn't still be going if he was no good.

A second series of his radio show, The Mark Steel Solution, beginning tonight on Radio 4 at 11pm, is a testament to his enduring appeal. In this, the comedian makes a "radical proposal to change all our lives for the better" (the opening titles make the very radical proposal that "the solution is to play Dean Saunders up front"). Tonight, Steel suggests that "everyone should have to be gay for two years".

In the rest of the series, he will propose that: "anyone who gives to charity should be jailed"; "criminals should be allowed to decide their own punishment" (to be recorded tomorrow night at the Midland Arts Centre, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, 0121-440 3838); and - one to tickle an Edinburgh aud- ience's fancy - "anybody born in England should be deported" (to be recorded on 22 Aug at the Pleasance Above, 60 The Pleasance, Edinburgh, 0131-556 6550). The Mark Steel Solution is like Jeremy Paxman's debating show, You Decide. With jokes.

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