Voices
 

This week we’ve seen the best and worst sides of drunken excesses. What have we learnt? Just like in life: llamas good, racism bad.

DAZED AND CONFUSED

"Grmmphh." It's Easter Monday morning. The clocks have gone forward, and, on the other end of the phone, Stewart Lee sounds as though his razor-sharp stand-up self is lagging somewhere in Greenwich Mean Time. The comedian is trying to gather some thoughts on his first straight acting role, in Oblomov (right), which went down a storm at last year's Edinburgh Festival, and which begins in London on Tuesday.

you are what you dangle

Say it with designer baubles. Say it with a plastic Santa Claus. But however you do your festive decor, it won't be only presents you end up giving away. By Eleanor Bailey; 'Whatever happens, you're stuffed'

Edinburgh Festival: Festival eye

As fans of BBC2's Fist of Fun will know, the theatre is the most curmudgeonly of art forms, promoted by the terminally smug so that at the end of each performance they can say, "Ah, I see", and bask in a warm glow of superiority.

VIDEO OFFER: LEE AND HERRING

Following another successful stint at the Edinburgh Festival, hit comedians Richard Herring and Stewart Lee are on something of a roll. With their UK tour underway, a new book on the shelves and a new live video, just released by the BBC, they're well on their way to Newman & Baddiel mega-stardom. Recently seen in Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun, the live show has been pulling in emotionally stunted, daytime-TV- obsessed juveniles countrywide.

Comedy; LEE & HERRING'S FIST OF FUN Cochrane Theatre, London

Loud rap music blasted out of the stage-side speakers. A troupe of spotlights danced across the stage. The two stars - Stewart Lee and Richard Herring - ran on stage in the sort of headset mikes pioneered by Madonna. And the crowd went wild.

THE CRITICS : Naked with Ned

COMEDY; JENNY ECLAIR, RICHARD HERRING, CLUUB ZARATHUSTRA et al in Edinburgh

COMEDY / Top of the bill (less 15%)

The lucrative stand-up business is sewn up by two agencies. James Rampt on profiles the Pepsi and Coke of live comedy

Edinburgh Festival / Final Day: Reviews

THROUGH DANCE COLOURED GLASSES

COMEDY / Laugh? The audience nearly died

WHY DID the comedian cross the road? A motive has yet firmly to be established, but experience suggests the Edinburgh Festival probably had something to do with it. The primeval migratory impulse, which every year causes comedians to flock north to the Firth of Mirth in a time-honoured quest for career advancement, is no laughing matter. Trying to be funnier than an awful lot of other people for three weeks in a confined space must be a brutal test of endurance. And endurance is something The Tokyo Shock Boys (Music Hall) know a good deal about.

FOOD & DRINK / Daily Bread: Robin Ince: What the stand-up comedian ate one day last week

I'VE just been on tour. I don't normally eat breakfast but if I'm on tour I get up for the guest-house breakfast to get my money's worth. In Plymouth the other day I had a couple of deformed poached eggs on rye bread, with ketchup and brown sauce - money's worth again, having all possible condiments. And four cups of coffee, with milk, no sugar. I spent the next five hours on the train to Birmingham - another four cups of coffee. BR coffee isn't too bad. And one piece of slightly stale, overpriced carrot cake - I wanted banana cake, but they were out of it. I had a cup of tea in a croissant shop in a subway in Birmingham. I don't eat for five hours before going on because it makes me feel too heavy. There's always a hot meal in my contract, and it always turns out to be pizza. I'd already had pizza eight days running. And because I'm vegetarian it's always the same pizza - if they really want to spoil me there might be a bit of pineapple on it. No pineapple at Birmingham University Students' Union: just a tomato and cheese base with peppers and a few dried olives. It was delivered at about 8pm but I don't come off till 10 so it was pretty congealed. I could only eat about three slices of it. After the cold pizza it was down to the beer. I usually stick to Guinness or Murphy's, it's always cheap in student unions, but this particular night they gave us a crate of Holsten Pils backstage. I had about seven bottles and a packet of dry roasted peanuts which I bought myself. At about 12.30am we went back to Stewart Lee's mum's in Solihull, had another beer and a cup of tea and went to bed. The next day I was off to Cardiff for more of the same.

Opinions: Should mutton dress as lamb?

KATHY LETTE, writer: The schoolgirl fantasy has passed its amuse-by date. Having been one myself, I can reveal that the reality is not the budding breasted nubile nymph, but padded trainer bras and sheets smeared in acne lotion.

Edinburgh Festival Day 11: Apparently ..

LIFE could be a circus for the acts at the now-defunct FEAST. After a report on this page yesterday that the companies at FEAST were trying to keep their shows on the road after FEAST ceased trading, Zippo's Circus has come up with an offer of tent-space. Zippo's performances have been moved to the post-school slots of 5pm and 7.30pm, leaving a licensed but empty big top during daylight hours. Ex-FEAST performers who'd like to negotiate a transfer to the Meadows should contact Verena Cornwall on 031-662 0532.

Edinburgh Festival Day 4: Apparently . . .

QUESTION: How many actors does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: That's a stage-management problem. The old Green Room joke gained extra poignancy at an early performance of Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World at the Pleasance, when Radio 4 stars Stewart Lee and Richard Herring lost the remote control for their on-stage television. Panic ensued. The TV is an essential prop, so the curtain was held for 20 minutes until the Pleasance 2 stage manager, Tony Kavanagh, could be called. The Nimrods asked him in desperation what could be done. Kavanagh simply leaned forward and pressed the on-button.

When is a group not a group?: The seven comic talents behind Radio 4's 'On the Hour', 'Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World' and 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' are bringing their unique brand of deadpan humour to television. Theirs is the new face of British comedy, but don't even think about calling them a team . . .

HALF-PAST five on a Thursday afternoon and the phone rings, and it's Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci on the other end: the photographer's there with the cast of The Day Today, a new television programme scheduled for transmission on BBC2 next year, and they're all a bit upset because he wants to take a group picture. They don't see themselves as a group and they don't want to be labelled one - they just happen to be making a programme together and to have made a fair number of other programmes together - and anyway Doon's on holiday and it wouldn't be fair, so couldn't they just have one photo each? Twenty-five minutes of reasoning, cajoling and outright pleading later, and they're still not happy with the concept of being photographed together, still arguing, and Morris refuses point- blank to be shot with the others. So, just to get the record straight: Steve Coogan, Rebecca Front, Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber, Chris Morris and David Schneider are not a team. They are individuals, with their own projects, their own ambitions, their own hopes and dreams and fears. So is Doon, who was on holiday. And now, perhaps we can get on with it?

RADIO / Hidden laughter: Robert Hanks enters Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World

'Since the dawn of time,' runs the introduction to Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World (Radio 4, Thursday), 'every man has cowered in shame before that which he cannot comprehend.' True enough - hence, you will find no attempt here to analyse Jimmy Young's popular success over a quarter of a century of broadcasting (as celebrated last week on Radio 2).
Career Services

Day In a Page

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The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
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Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
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Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
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Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

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The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
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Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
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Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
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Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
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New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on