Arts and Entertainment London comic Chris Coltrane held up a photo of Putin’s naked torso and joked that if the Russian President wanted to stop the promotion of homosexuality 'maybe he should stop posing for photos like this'

Semi-naked photos of Vladimir Putin and a blast of Tchaikovsky played on an iPad formed parts of comedy protest against homophobia in Russia, staged outside the Russian Consulate General in Edinburgh today.

jo brand's week

Look what's happened. A Labour landslide, goodbye to the Tories and the dawn of a new era, which leads me to wonder how comics are going to deal with the next five years and tackle the characters who will make up our new government. Well, many comics will be doing what they have always done, which is to ignore politics altogether. Popular television comedy these days, with the exception of a few like Rory Bremner and Mark Thomas, shies away from any political stance at all. The Day Today, Mrs Merton, French and Saunders and Alan Partridge all keep it shut as far as political opinion is concerned, which is probably why they are on big telly channels.

Trendspotting #9

l THE HOMELESS ARE HOT

Comedy: Eye on the New

Described by one newspaper as "Harry Enfield for the millennium", Simon Day is a canny character comedian whose talents as rambling music-hall performer Tommy Cockles and others have reached a wide audience through The Fast Show.

'I discovered how bad many PR people are'

Peter Hehir, 51, is now joint chairman of Porter Novelli International, the world's fourth largest PR firm, after selling Countrywide Communications to its parent company, Omnicom, for around pounds 12m

Junk mail jokers swamp ministers

COMEDIAN Mark Thomas opposes Royal Mail privatisation - so he has targeted its architects for revenge.

Garter Snakes? They have it easy compared with putting a show on in this place

It's official - the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is huge. Dust off any copy of the Guinness Book of Records, look up "Festivals: Enormous" and there she blows: 200 venues, 660 theatrical groups, 9,000 performers and a zillion shows: everything from Waiting for Godot in German to a semi-naked bloke doing acrobatics in a bath off the castle battlements. And who pays for this artistic outpouring? A mysterious government department? The punters? No. By and large it is the performers themselves. Like Garter Snakes struggling in their hundreds to mate with a single female in some grotesque wildlife documentary, here fringe performers struggle in droves to attract the attention of the press, the public, non English-speaking tourists - anyone who will enable them to recoup at least part of their investment. After two years performing at other summer festivals across the world, trying in effect desperately to avoid this place, I am back myself and let me tell you - those Garter Snakes have it easy.

Legends of the comedy terrorist

Malcolm Hardee, hard-drinking King of the Fringe, is still ripping his clothes off in the name of showbiz anarchy.

Jokers in cyberspace

surf's up; The Web is a playground for comedians - but even comics can fall victim to pranksters ...

The tank driver

Mark Thomas may be our cheekiest comedian. Nicholas Barber meets the foul-mouthed scourge of William Waldegrave's doorstep

Flouting Thomas

A bit of politics goes a long way in Mark Thomas's TV show.

LETTER: Pioneer Goon

From Mr Colin Berkeley

Enfield wins Montreux Golden Rose

TV comedian and Indepdentent on Sunday columnist Harry Enfield has won a Golden Rose of Montreux for his BBC hit Smashie and Nicey - End of an Era. The show, which was made by Tiger Aspect Productions, also starred Paul Whitehouse, who co-wrote the script with Enfield.

Last of the latex laffs

POLEMIC Spitting Image is dead. Long live political comedy, says David Tyler

ARTS : What's the secret of comedy?

Er... timing. But then there's the state of the audience on the night, the gag writing, the compere's introduction, the post-performance analysis... Mark Wareham asks six alternative comedians to put together their guide to good gigging

The Edinburgh Festival 1994: Comedy & Cabaret

Best of the Fest 1-3 (Playhouse, 031-557 2590, 27 & 29 Aug). A trio of shows featuring the stars of the Off the Kerb stable: Julian Clary, Lee Evans, Jeff Green, Hattie Hayridge and Mark Thomas; then Jack Dee, Mark Lamarr, Rhona Cameron, Richard Morton and Mark Thomas again; then Jo Brand and special guests.
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