Comedy

London calling

12 August 2017 9:00 am

What is the Edinburgh Fringe? It’s a sabbatical, a pit stop, a pause-and-check-the-map opportunity for actors who don’t quite know…

Miranda Richardson in Robert Wilson’s 1996 production of Orlando for the EIF

Show up and show off

29 July 2017 9:00 am

The Edinburgh Festival was founded as a response to war. The inaugural event, held in 1947, was the brainchild of…

A side order of extra Marmite comes in the considerable silhouette of Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy

Russell Crowe knows how to wear a pair of inverted commas: The Nice Guys reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Regular filmgoers must be losing count of the Rabelaisian revelries they’ve been invited to of late. You may recognise the…

Isn’t it puke-inducing being lectured about poverty by millionaire comics?

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Going Forward (BBC4, Thursdays) is a BBC comedy about the continuing adventures of Kim Wilde, the fat, cynical but lovable…

James Delingpole is loving Ben Elton's new Shakespeare sitcom

14 May 2016 9:00 am

There’s no way of saying this without shredding the last vestiges of my critical credibility, but this new Ben Elton…

Is there a funnier opera than Gerald Barry’s Importance of Being Earnest?

9 April 2016 9:00 am

Comic opera is no laughing matter. Seriously, when was the last time you laughed out loud in the opera house?…

The rotten fruits of Peter Maxwell Davies’s modernism

9 April 2016 9:00 am

The intransigence of Maxwell Davies, Boulez and Stockhausen is coming home to roost. Here were three composers, famous if not…

Leading the party, two brilliant showmen: Kenneth Branagh (Ralph) and Rob Brydon (Brian) in ‘The Painkillers’

Slapstick enthusiasts will love this Branagh and Brydon farce: The Painkillers reviewed

2 April 2016 9:00 am

Sir Ken’s excellent West End residency continues with a sugar-rich confection. Sean Foley has adapted and updated an elderly French farce…

A senile Putin becomes a parody of his own parody

19 March 2016 9:00 am

The decrepitude of old age is a piteous sight and subject. In his second book Michael Honig — a doctor-turned-novelist…

David Quantick’s The Mule: lost in the world of translation

12 March 2016 9:00 am

For those who read the weekly music press during the 1980s, David Quantick’s was a name you could rely on.…

Groucho Marx (Photo: Getty)

When Groucho Marx lectured T.S. Eliot

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Groucho Marx was delighted when he heard that the script for one of his old Vaudeville routines was being reprinted…

Woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Gina McKee as The Mother

The Mother is meaningless - I predict great things for it

6 February 2016 9:00 am

Florian Zeller has been reading Pinter. And Pinter started out in repertory thrillers where suspense was created by delaying revelations…

An Egyptian comedy of errors

16 January 2016 9:00 am

The Yacoubian Building, the first novel of the Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany, sold well over a million copies in…

Dreams don’t have to make sense - but TV dramas do: Peter & Wendy reviewed

2 January 2016 9:00 am

On the face of it, ITV’s Peter & Wendy sounded like a perfect family offering for Boxing Day: an adaptation…

Tricycle’s Ben Hur is magnificent in its superficiality - a masterpiece of nothing

12 December 2015 9:00 am

It’s the target that makes the satire as well as the satirist. Is the subject powerful, active, relevant and menacing?…

Victorian music-hall comedy wasn’t funny. Why pretend it was?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Let’s start this week with a joke: ‘You know Mrs Kelly? Do you know Mrs Kelly? Her husband’s that little…

Shakespeare at his freest and most exuberant: The Wars of the Roses reviewed

24 October 2015 9:00 am

The RSC’s The Wars of the Roses solves a peculiar literary problem. Shakespeare’s earliest history plays are entitled Henry VI…

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan

Woody Allen: a life of jazz, laughter, depression —and a few misdemeanours

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), the prolific, Oscar-winning auteur, New Orleans-style jazz clarinettist, doyen of New York delicatessen society,…

A gleeful vision of the future from Margaret Atwood

19 September 2015 8:00 am

What could happen in literature to a young couple — or a pair of young couples — who fall off…

Where comics find their Edinburgh comfort food

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Mum’s, or to use its full title, Mum’s Great Comfort Food, is a restaurant in Edinburgh designed to soothe itinerant…

Edinburgh Fringe highlights: world-class improv, Bible study and an hour with a gentle genius

29 August 2015 9:00 am

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical offers a brand new song-and-dance spectacular at every performance. It opens with a brilliantly chaotic piece…

Cherrelle Skeete as Katya and Royce Pierreson at Belyaev in ‘Three Days in the Country’

Feels like Chekhov scripted by a Chekhov app: Three Days in the Country at the Lyttleton reviewed

8 August 2015 9:00 am

Chekhov so dominates 19th-century Russian drama that Turgenev doesn’t get much of a look-in. His best known play, A Month…

She's Funny That Way isn't funny at all

27 June 2015 9:00 am

The writer and director Peter Bogdanovich has made three of my favourite films of all time (The Last Picture Show,…

Imagine if Are You Being Served? had starred Laurence Olivier: ITV’s Vicious reviewed

6 June 2015 9:00 am

Monday saw the return of possibly the weirdest TV series in living memory. Imagine a parallel universe in which Are…

Jackie Mason reveals the secret of stand-up: avoid fried food

16 May 2015 9:00 am

What does it take to be a stand-up comic? Jackie Mason has absolutely no idea