Arts and Entertainment

With stand-up dominated by the one-comic-and-a mic-form of observational humour, it's little wonder that some comedians are seeking more alternative modes of expression to set themselves apart. The Boy with Tape On His Face distinguishes himself with a joyously retro presentation of silent, performance-led humour, while the bestowal of the Edinburgh Comedy Award on Phil Burgers last year, for his mute, sexualised and playfully scary bouffon Dr Brown, echoed and endorsed the stand-up circuit's burgeoning interest in clowning.

Thompson triumph

(First Edition)

Our brilliant year: A survey of 1993 by Alex Renton and Helen Birch

JOHN WAYNE BOBBITT, a former US marine, had his penis cut off with a kitchen knife by his wife, who drove away in her car and threw it out of the window. Mr Bobbitt, since reunited with his member by surgery, claims it is longer than before. As his wife, Lorena, awaits trial for malicious wounding, Mr Bobbitt said that next time 'I'll be careful who I pick for my girlfriends.'

CINEMA / A masterly servant

THE MESSAGE of The Remains of the Day (U) might be that manners makyth history. The genius of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, maintained by James Ivory's film, is in the way the nuances of English etiquette march stride for stride with the nation's destiny. The book's narrator, Stevens, is a 1930s butler, working for Lord Darlington of Darlington Hall. While Darlington and his magic circle of white-tied guests seek to influence British foreign policy, Stevens must magically meet their needs: a spill or breakage might alter the course of the meeting, and of Europe. It is soon clear that both master, with his honour- bound overtures to Germany, and servant, with his unquestioning devotion, are appeasers. For Stevens, this is peculiarly cruel, as he is only doing his job. A case of being at the wrong place-mat at the wrong time.

FILM / Beyond the call of duty: Adam Mars-Jones on Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson in Merchant Ivory's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day

A gentlewoman in the last century, hearing that Queen Victoria would not after all be paying a visit to her country house, described it as the crowning disappointment of a disappointing life. It's a remark that could describe the experience of the butler Stevens, hero of the new Merchant Ivory film The Remains of the Day (U), written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, except that in its brevity the remark tends towards comedy, while the film in its expansiveness can only be aiming at tragedy. Tragedy, though, is more than pathos taken slow.

ARTS / Show People: Off the cuff and on the spot: 74. Josie Lawrence

WHEN HER own series was broadcast two years ago Josie Lawrence was filming in Italy. 'I remember the day it came out. I was in the airport and I looked at all the papers, and the previews were saying 'pick of the week - Josie's new show' and I thought, oh, oh, lovely.' The next day the reviews came out. 'Suddenly, crunch. Real, real vitriol, some of them. People said the most terrible things.'

Letter: Hard acts for the US to follow

DOES it really matter what America thinks about Howards End and Emma Thompson ('Your Oscar is no big deal', 28 March)? The fact that American audiences haven't recognised it as a great film and appreciated its outstanding acting is neither here nor there. Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her natural acting ability and performance, whether or not she is considered 'sexy'.

Your Oscar is no big deal: Cynthia Heimel explains why Americans don't give a damn about Emma Thompson

I HATE to have to tell everybody in England this but, with very few exceptions, nobody in America cares whether Emma Thompson lives or dies.
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