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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