Comedy

The Importance of Being Earnest (Photo: ROH/Stephen Cummiskey)

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?…

English composer Maxwell Davies conducts Welsh soprano Mary Thomas, 1968 (Photo: Getty)

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…

(Photo: Getty)

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 (far left) receives his Writers Guild Award for Veep (Photo: Getty)

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…

Egyptian novelist Alaa Al-Aswany (Photo: Getty)

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…

Stanley Tucci as Captain Hook with the crew of the Jolly Roger

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…

Ben Hur

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?…

What a performance! Frank Skinner as Champagne Charlie

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…

The War of the Roses (Photo: Mark Douet)

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,…

Alderman

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…

Mum’s serves 16 variants of mash, five variants of sausage and three individual types of gravy!

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…

The Christians, Traverse

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…

Imogen Poots and Owen Wilson

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,…

Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) ©ITV

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 at the Hollywood Palace in 1964: ‘A good comedian must tell the truth’

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

Chris Rock as Andre Allen alongside Rosario Dawson as Chelsea Brown

Top Five reviewed: Chris Rock hits rock bottom

9 May 2015 9:00 am

The oeuvre of Chris Rock may not be fully known in this parish. He was the African-American stand-up who made…

Author Irvine Welsh Photo: Getty

Taxi ride to the dark side: a thrilling blast of full-strength Irvine Welsh

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Irvine Welsh, I think it’s safe to say, is not a writer who’s mellowing with age. His latest book sees…

Miranda July Photo: Getty

Miranda July may be a film director, performance artist, sculptor and designer — but she is no novelist

28 March 2015 9:00 am

Miranda July is a funny and brilliant film director, performance artist, sculptor and smartphone app designer. In 2005, she won…

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) with his dinner date, Fiona (Gemma Arterton)

The Voices review: a hateful, repellent, empty film

21 March 2015 9:00 am

The Voices is ‘a dark comedy about a serial killer’, which is not an overcrowded genre, and I think we…

Heckler-210215

The Heckler: how funny really was Spitting Image?

21 February 2015 9:00 am

Hold the front page! Spitting Image is back! Well, sort of. A new six-part series, from (some of) the team…