Arts and Entertainment

"Bo Burnham: What", Pleasance Grand, Edinburgh Fringe, August

First Night: Wandering away from the jokes

Jimeoin Ealing Comedy Festival

Cricket: Kings of the commentary box

CHANNEL 4, it is generally agreed, have made a fine job of their inaugural Test match. Some of us were a bit alarmed by all their bold talk of dragging cricket into the 21st century. Tampering with the ball we can accept. It is, after all, a venerable practice. But tampering with our TV coverage is a different matter entirely. They inferred that they planned to make it younger and sexier, to the point where it seemed a cert that Eddie Izzard would join the commentary team. "Errrr... nice outswinger. Errrr... nice eyebrows too. And now, taking you up to the tea interval, I'll hand over to Lily Savage." We should have had more faith. Actually, our fears began to subside as soon as we found out that they had hired Richie Benaud. For if the prospect of a BBC without Test cricket was mildly depressing, it was nowhere near as unsettling as the prospect of Test cricket without Benaud. In Friday's Independent, Stan Hey described Benaud as the best cricket commentator of all time, with John Arlott a close second. In fact, there are some who would reverse this order. It is certainly undeniable that Arlott, not only blessed with one of broadcasting's most beguiling voices, was also cricket's supreme wordsmith.

Profile: Eddie Izzard; A seriously funny man

After witnessing a stand-up performance by Lenny Bruce, the critic Kenneth Tynan wrote: "Clutching a hand mike, he slouched around a tiny dais, free-associating like mad; grinning as he improvised, caring as he grinned, seldom repeating in the second show what he said in the first, and often conducting what amounted to a rush job of psychoanalysis on the audience he was addressing. He used words as a jazz musician uses notes, going off into fantastic private cadenzas and digressions, and returning to his theme just when you thought he had lost track for ever."

Letter: Benn's Law

Sir: Tony Benn is an admirable relic of the heyday of Westminster democracy, when we were grateful that our betters represented us and we had no chance of participating. Today we are consumer citizens with direct and global and increasingly interactive media, not to mention an all-pervasive democracy of information, NGOs and the other bits and pieces of politics without politicians.

Parliament Taxation: Comic helps launch Brown's charity scheme

CROSS-DRESSING comedian Eddie Izzard yesterday donated pounds 40,000 to charity to launch a new Treasury scheme to boost charitable giving.

People and Business: Comedy figures

EDDIE IZZARD'S dad was a former president of the Institute of Internal Auditors.

comedy Eddie Izzard

Despite an increasingly successful film career, Eddie Izzard (below) remains one of our top live draws. In Izzardworld, pieces of bread in the toaster conspire deliberately to burn themselves by whispering to each other "stay down, lads". His act is not a straight up and down "autobahn" observational routine, but a weird and wonderful ramble through the winding highways and byways of his mind. He performs his Dressed to Kill show, previously only seen in the States, in front of an anticipated audience of 11,000 at Wembley Arena (0181-902 0902) on Wednesday in aid of the Prince's Trust. Tickets won't be easy to come by, but you may get lucky with returns.

The mission: Quentin Fottrell dusts down a few jokes and tries his luck - and his audience's patience - as a stand-up comic

I begin my evening class in stand-up comedy as a clueless, nervous wreck. I expect my tutor, who is a stand-up comedian in real life, to brandish a leather strap and challenge me with the words, "So, you think you're funny, d'ya?" Instead he says, "No joke is too crap." My ears perk up. This is good advice. I will take this idea and run with it.

Shape of Arts to Come: No 3: Comedy - Tommy Tiernan: I'm a comedian. I don't do gags

You want jokes? You've come to the wrong place. The crack-a-minute school of comedy is dead. By James Rampton

Preview: First call, last call

Adults and children alike will be thrilled to learn that Slava Polunin is returning to London with his highly acclaimed Snowshow. Opening with the clown's startling discovery of life instead of death at the end of a hangman's noose, the mimed show continues in tragi-comic style, climaxing with a breathtaking snowstorm, complete with giant juggling balls and music from Carmina Burana. Polunin captivates the audience's childish excitement, while embodying the traditional clown's melancholy joy. If you have never seen it, book now, as those who have already been are bound to go back for more

The Critics' Awards 1998: Comedy - The Holy Grail goes to Father Kev

It was the year in which comics wanted to be taken seriously. Ardal O'Hanlon wrote a novel; Gareth Hale, today's Benny Hill, followed the lead of Eddie Izzard and appeared on Question Time; Lee Evans, Britain's answer to Jim Carrey, starred in a couple of films ... and in that digital TV ad.

Christmas Gifts: Titanic selection of videos to buy

James Rampton takes a look at the best - and some of the worst - available in the shops

Comedy: And here's one for the ladies

Jeff Green Apollo, W1

Pop: Like Eddie Izzard in a strop

BABY BIRD PEACOCK THEATRE

George Bernard Shaw and the best-ever prostitute joke

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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee