Armando Iannucci recently said that the UK falls behind the US  when it comes to female comedy writers. Do you find it to be a male-dominated industry?

I Stole Freddie Mercury's Birthday Cake by Malcolm Hardee with John Fleming, 4th Estate pounds 8.99.

What could a man who has built a career around the public display of his genitalia (albeit occasionally shielded by a hard-pressed balloon or three) possibly have left to reveal? A fair bit, it turns out. This characterful and not overly ghost-written autobiography contains a feast of scabrous reminiscence. It is also a great deal more fun than Malcolm Hardee's act - but then again, so is having your appendix removed.

Letter: Spooks with no licence to kill

Sir: Jo Brand (20 July), writing about my and allegedly Stella Rimington's participation in the game show Wanted, claims that "the spy services... doubtless killed people". She did not get it quite right.

Match made in cyberheaven

network; You, too, could find love on the Net. Mike Hewitt goes in search of romance online; 'Hi, I'm Cheryl! I'm into books and long walks in the country. I'm looking for a non-smoker. Looks aren't important, but he must have that special "something"'

Comedy / Mark Lamarr Show Comedy Store, London

Mark Lamarr has a reputation as the Vinny Jones of comedy, ruthlessly chopping down opponents and snarling at the crowd. He stropped his way through BBC2's recent spoof panel-game, Shooting Stars, and is reported to have come to blows with another presenter on The Word. He affects a hardnut, rockabilly hairdo that says "don't mess with me", and could scowl for Britain.


To some she's a cake-eating Antichrist, but lads don't mind her. She used to be a 'miserable, alienated old sod' but she's cheered up now

Letter: Talking about MS

Sir: Jo Brand does not have it quite right in saying Stuart Henry did not tell people he had multiple sclerosis (Diary, 2 December). In 1982, when his speech had become noticeably affected, Stuart did indeed make his illness known to Radio Luxembourg listeners, and the station launched an appeal for the work of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

true gripes bare feet

It's true that there are real-life foot fetishists, but they mercifully know how to toe the line on secrecy. On the whole, more people loathe feet than like them, probably because nasty, smelly things tend to happen down there. Feet are utterly repulsive and we should be grateful that the things are stuck on the furthest extremity of the body where they can hum away, happily distant from the more delicate sense organs.



The little man who turns triumph to adversity

In the person of Lee Evans are resolved two of the great mysteries that have continued to puzzle mankind. His jabbering, lank-limbed stand- up performances offer conclusive proof that man really is descended from the apes. The other riddle concerns the cyclical nature of popular culture. Angry, issue-based alternative comedy was previously thought to mark a permanent shift in comic performance style, but the advent of Evans shows that it was merely a passing blip confined to a period that posterity is already referring to as "the 1980s".

Television: Did I really say that? I must be mad

I'd better get the apology out of the way first. Reviewing Minders last week, a series which follows the work of a South London community mental health team, I noted television's ability to arouse "facile indignation" in its viewers. Unfortunately I ignored my own warning and went on to make a rather casual condemnation of the unit's head, Professor Tom Burns, implying that he had an unquestioning faith in the chemical cure and an arrogant attitude to his patients' distress.

Red-carding racism

Red-carding racism

COMEDY / Green giant: Jeff Green makes adult jokes about male inadequacy, but his good looks have brought him respectability. He charmed James Rampton

Billy Connolly came to see Jeff Green's Perrier-nominated show at Edinburgh. 'It was like Marlon Brando coming to a school play,' Green laughs. 'I'm glad I didn't know, or I would have gone to pieces. All the people around him were nervously waiting to see when he laughed. But he came up to me afterwards and said, 'that was good. It was non-macho, you were just having a gas.' That was a real honour for me - I've followed him since Parkinson. It was worth more to me than the Perrier nomination.'

Edinburgh Festival Day 17: Review: Women in comedy

'Backstage we call this 'Birds with Jokes',' Lynn Ferguson rasps. While the bill for Women in Comedy rotates every night, the Scottish comedienne remains its backbone. No shrinking violet, Ferguson quickly establishes a celebratory atmosphere which allows women to be funny without apologising. Last week's line-up included the diminutive Charmian Hughes on chat-up lines, cucumber-cool Hattie Hayridge, and the marvellous Donna McPhail. The guests this week include Julie Balloo, Jo Brand and Rhona Cameron, so you're bound to see some of the Fringe's funniest women.

Edinburgh Festival / Day 10: Side View

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