Arts and Entertainment

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

Edinburgh Festival `98: Beneath the glitter lies an awful lot of gold

FILM VELVET GOLDMINE DIR: TODD HAYNES ODEON 1

The Big Picture: A side order of irony, please

THE AVENGERS (12) DIRECTOR: JEREMIAH CHECHICK STARRING: RALPH FIENNES, UMA THURMAN

theatre: Monsters on Broadway

New York has taken the blockbuster route to putting bums on seats. But size isn't everything.

TV: I hardly dare think how many teachers have had sarcastic remarks repeat on them as they see old pupils hit the headlines (`Oh very clever, Izzard. That will stand you in good stead when you've got a mortgage to pay')

"Nobody ever became a comedian because he's trying to bring happiness to people," observed the veteran stand-up Jackie Mason a few weeks ago. "He's trying to bring cash to the bank." These days he (and she) probably find that easier than it used to be, thanks to a boom in stand-up which has turned every other pub into a comedy club and spattered the television schedules with spin-offs, specials and light entertainment quizzes. It has been a good decade for those who used to sit at the back of the class and make their friends snort uncontrollably in the middle of lessons - I hardly dare think how many teachers have had their sarcastic remarks repeat on them uncomfortably as they see old pupils hit the headlines ("Oh very clever, Izzard. That will stand you in good stead when you've got a mortgage to pay.") You really know a new generation has come of age, though, when they start making nostalgic documentaries about the early days of struggle. Channel 4 is doing just that at the moment (and taking the opportunity to blow its own trumpet) with First on Four, a series of films "celebrating" the career of comics closely associated with the channel.

ISSEY FOR REAL?

At first sight, Issey Ogata (right) commands attention because the very idea of a Japanese stand-up is so unusual. But there is more to him than mere novelty-value; he is actually a highly accomplished performer. With his vignettes sending up Japanese life, he is able to capture social types that transcend the language barrier. In 15 years, Ogata has developed from a building-site worker into the hottest property in Japanese live comedy - and, from Tuesday at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, we have the chance to see why.

Comedy: Surfing the comedy waves

His gift for ad-libbing has made stand-up Phil Kay the toast of Eddie Izzard, Bob Mortimer and his other comedy peers. Tonight, he is let loose for a benefit at the Hackney Empire

Comedy: A newsworthy stand-up

The wacky humour of Eddie Izzard or Harry Hill is not Kevin Day's cup of tea. This self-confessed puritan aligns himself with political humourists like Jeremy Hardy or Mark Thomas, though he can't say that he doesn't crave a little fame and fortune...

Comedy: Any time, any place, anywhere

There's more to improvisation than standing up and impersonating something strange a la `Whose Line is it Anyway?' Good improvisers construct a narrative, and best of all, they can teach you how to do it, too

The secret of his success? He's sorry, he hasn't a clue

The idea of a 76-year-old trumpet player having his finger on the comedy buzzer - even being the object of a small riot from young fans - seems a little far fetched. But that's Humphrey Lyttelton, chairman of one of radio's most popular anti-quiz shows. As he tells James Rampton, it's close enough to jazz.

Izzard gets serious over the `New Europeans'

Eddie Izzard is getting political. Seriously. Yesterday he performed live at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party's European Conference in Eastbourne.

TV comedy checks in to the sanatorium

The great British sitcom may have run out of steam. Vanessa Thorpe on the bizarre new offerings intended to keep us watching

Comedy: More tales of the unexpected

The king of surreal stand-up, Eddie Izzard, brings a new selection of `highly-crafted rubbish' to town

Interview: Eddie the irresistible

INTERVIEW: Eddie Izzard

Letter: Britain's bright future in Europe

Sir: The Europe 97 campaign is a welcome and timely reminder of the crucial importance of Europe in British life. Culturally, economically, and politically, Britain and the British people have gained greatly from membership of the European Union.
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