Shortlisted comedians for the 1999 Perrier Award

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The Independent Online
League Against Tedium

Our view: The is comedy to the nth power. Forget everything you've learnt: that gags should have punchlines, that the best crowd is one that laughs with you, not at you. Simon Munnery, the League's alter ego, is a ludicrous, shambolic figure, a multimedia idiot savant clutching a sword fitted with video cameras, his face projected on to a screen, mumbling aphorisms and delivering a manifesto of comic alienation. But is it funny? Often Munnery over-reaches himself - you sense that this is still a work-in-progress. But no other comic has such soaring ambition. MW

Terry Alderton

Our view: Alderton is from Essex and has all the obligatory hang-ups. He explores the usual boyish preoccupations such as football, alcohol and fast cars, but with a sharp, self-deprecating humour that makes you forget all the other times you've heard the jokes about them. But it is his scatter-gun impressions that finally win you over. Alderton performs each one with a live-wire intensity and comes equipped with a facial repertoire that Rory Bremner

would die for. FS

Ross Noble

Our view: Ross Noble is able to build whole landscapes around a single idea. An incident with a pensioner, for example, sees him transported into a medieval world of wizards, dragons and mountains of barley sugar. Presumably there is a rehearsed script but he seems to be in no hurry. His is equipped with an encyclopaedic brain that spews out anything from ancient history to pop culture. And if there isn't a punch line, no matter. The beauty is in the journey, not the destination. FS

Al Murray, the Pub Landlord

Our view: The politics of the Perrier are small beer for the towering comic creation that is the pub landlord. This is bar-room philosophising made art, a dizzying send-up of Little Englander prejudices and fears: learn why ladies should be restricted to fruit-based drinks, how we're so much better than the French and, tangentially, about the crisis of masculinity. All in an hour. Compare that with the average comic's tired collection of knob gags and thoughts on the weather. MW

Arctic Boosh

Our view: There are mad twists and turns as the two talk about their respective uncles: Uncle Pedro, the fisherman who fished in his head, to the dismay of the locals, and Uncle Boris, whose laughter had frozen inside him like a little white nipple, after a postal route in the Arctic.

The show then steps up to another level as we discover that one of the postal workers is in fact a professor on the hunt for the egg of the Mantumbi - under

instruction from a Jiffy-bag god. The Arctic is then created, complete with polar bear. EK