Arts and Entertainment The dark side: Bill Bailey

Cultural Life: The comedian on his favourite music, film, tv and theatre picks

Third Division: Huddersfield hold upper hand

Lincoln City 1 Huddersfield Town 2

Twelve Angry Men, Assembly Rooms

Stand-ups play it straight in trial triumph

Preview: comedy: mel and sue

Live on stage, comedians Mel and Sue are very much unchanged from their familiar personae on Channel 4's Late Lunch. They display all those qualities which gained them sofa-loads of malingering student fans: they're sassy, saucy, sussed, sarky. Oh, yes, and silly. The pair are at their best when their professionalism is at its worst. During a recent live show, they would often lose it completely in the middle of a sketch, and step out of character to take the mick out of each other's (frequent) fluffs. Rather than appearing self-indulgent, this is actually rather endearing. They appear with Tim Vine, Bill Bailey, Paul Zerdin and Jocelyn Jee at tonight's Alan Davies Appeal Benefit. Alan Davies Appeal Benefit (in aid of the Hackney Empire Appeal Fund), Hackney Empire, London E8 (0181-985 2424) tonight

Comedy: GIG OF THE WEEK; Rich Hall Mon The Comedy Store, London SW1

You may think the depravity of prisoners isn't a subject for knock- about comedy. By any conventional standards, Otis Lee Crenshaw, a Deep South convict in jail for "involuntary bigamy" and played by American stand-up Rich Hall, should be prompting letters of outrage to the Attorney General, or at least Anne Robinson. But the more Crenshaw ignores good taste with his spoof Country & Western songs, the more audiences lap him up. "I guess prison rape has got a bit of a bad name," he muses at one point, "but I always said if I ever wrote a song about it, I'd make it romantic." Musical guests include Bill Bailey, Boothby Graffoe, Phil Nichol and Steve Gribbin.

Staying In: I say, I say, I say

Stand-up Tommy Tiernan talks about serious acting, his new sitcom - and how he'd like to read the News

Historian gets job as head

AN ACADEMIC and former rugby international who has never taught in a school classroom took up a position as headmaster of a leading independent school yesterday.

Festival: Edinburgh fringe

Following last year's furore, Edinburgh Fringe events again begin a week earlier than the International Festival (15 Aug to 4 Sept), running from tomorrow until the end of the month. Despite the wealth of plays, visual art, music, dance and film, the annual Perrier Award ensures that comedy is the main focus of the Fringe. Must-sees include the musical genius of Bill Bailey (left, 24 Aug only); a new outing for blathermeister and Perrier-winner Dylan Moran (13-17 Aug); smug but hilarious Greg Proops (6-19 Aug); ranting from award-winning potter Johnny Vegas (10-15 Aug); and bar-room philosophy from Al Murray Pub Landlord (4-30 Aug). There's a new icy venture, Arctic Boosh (4-30 Aug), from last year's prize-winning newcomers; The Right Size's loopy but very funny hit Do You Come Here Often? (15-30 Aug); and a short run for paper-sculpting impressionist Ennio Marchetto (25-30 Aug). The choice is yours.

Arts: Comedy - Almost ready to rock

THE FESTIVAL OF FUN! RICHMOND THEATRE LONDON

Scientists lose huge asteroid

ASTRONOMERS HAVE lost track of an asteroid hundreds of metres wide that could devastate the Earth in 50 years' time. Still, they are not unduly worried: instead they are concentrating on the other 178 lumps of rock that might destroy us first.

Arts: All the way to the bank

Twenty years ago the Comedy Store opened in London, bringing American- style alternative stand-up to the UK for the first time. Today, what was once edgy, angry and subversive has become big business

Football: Schmeichel's spread bet

The handball wizard casts giant shadow on Inter's powers of recovery as the Battle of Milan beckons

Debate: Middle age

An American study last week claimed middle age as the prime of life.

Crusaid benefit

The great thing about charity gigs - apart from the money raised, of course - is that they bring together a host of top comedians who would never usually be seen on the same bill. Four of our finest performers - the cake-loving, man-hating Jo Brand, the master of the delicious double entendre, Julian Clary (right), the Star Wars fanatic, Phill Jupitus, and the wondrous stand-up musician Bill Bailey - are all appearing at tonight's benefit in aid of Crusaid and The Food Chain.
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