Arts and Entertainment

The Week in Radio: Williams was quick on his feet, and willing to cover mishaps with self-deprecating humour

Julie Burchill: We still love a joke, it's just that the real funnymen left the building long ago

The ignorant bigotry of Bernard Manning has been replaced by the cowardly, preening, calculated bullying of comics as different as Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle

The Horne Section: Songs in the key of silly

It's the perfect match. The improvised musings of the country's best comedians combined with the free-form noodlings of a five-piece jazz band. When The Horne Section debuted at Edinburgh this summer, it quickly became the talk of the Fringe. Punters clutching pints queued round the block for the occasional, lightly shambolic midnight shows. Jimmy Carr dropped by to rap out 10 one-liners over 10 different beats, Tim Minchin improvised a song about cheese and Tim Key performed a track by the Russian punk band Leningrad. There were burlesque dancers, shared bags of chips and 2am Bon Jovi singalongs, led by Josie Long with Mark Watson on drums.

Brand wins major comedy award

But Russell is not there to collect it - unlike namesake Jo, who also triumphs

First Night: 10 O'Clock Live, Channel 4

They had the big stories, but where were the big laughs?

Matt Gatward: A harsh light shines on Sue and her new friends

View From The Sofa: A Question Of Sport/Freddie Flintoff: Ashes Warrior, BBC1

Croydon – from concrete hell to cutting edge?

A new arts and entertainment initiative aims to do for the unlovely borough what the Guggenheim did for Bilbao

Fringe Notes: 25/08/2010

* Tim Key called on a few friends to launch his "unnecessary poetical album on vinyl" at Avalanche Records this week. Alex Horne played French horn and Nick Mohammed the violin. Album tracks include such hit poems as "Bob and the Pipe", "Janet/ Gannet" and "The Date" read over a string quartet.

Gary Delaney: Purist, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Sustaining a one-liner oriented show for an hour or more is a tricky business. Even the best practitioners, like Jimmy Carr and Steven Wright, have found it a stretch.

A little less conversation, a little more action

Jonathan Ross is moving to ITV with a new chat show – but it’s time to retire this tired, old format, says Gerard Gilbert

TV panel shows - I'm sorry they haven't a clue

The same few hackneyed comedians keep cropping up on TV panel shows. Fiona Sturges doesn't see the funny side

Last Night's Television: Bruce Forsyth: A Comedy Roast, Channel 4<br />Embarrassing Bodies: Charlotte's Story, Channel 4

The point about a comedy roast – spectacularly missed by the newspapers who indignantly reported on Jonathan Ross's insulting remarks about Bruce Forsyth recently – is that the guest of honour is on the spit. An essentially American institution, in which showbiz entertainers gather for what the Scots would call a flyting – or an insult contest – the whole idea is that you let them have it with the best you've got. Offence and embarrassment don't have an invitation, since the only breach of good taste at such events would be to serve underarm because you thought the recipient couldn't handle anything tougher. What's really interesting about them, though – apart from the occasional pre-prepared aces – is that embarrassment is always lurking about there somewhere, waiting to pounce on the possibility that a friendly insult might have strayed just a little too close to a nerve. And in the first of Channel 4's Comedy Roasts it looked to me as if embarrassment was spending quite a lot of time near Jimmy Carr and Jonathan Ross.

Observations: Aczel is a shambles of a comic success

"There will be some mild amusement and a little boredom," says the comedian Ed Aczel, introducing his act. It's hardly the ringing endorsement that you would expect, but that's the way Aczel rolls. Coming to comedy late via an evening course (he continues to hold down a regular job as an account manager for employee benefit schemes), Aczel, 42, graduated from it as bemused as he came in, a state that dictates his style. Slightly embarrassed, awkward and deliberately lacklustre, his shtick has won him second place in the BBC New Comedy Award within 18 months of starting out and a leg-up from Jimmy Carr's Comedy Idol competition, in which he came second in 2006. Carr went on to declare Aczel's 2007 Edinburgh show "the funniest thing on the Fringe" on The Culture Show.

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