Comedy

‘Funny is now dangerous’: Michael Heath’s Desert Island Discs reviewed

13 August 2016 9:00 am

‘I’m off now,’ says Michael Heath, signing off from his selection of Desert Island Discs on Radio 4, ‘to go…

Absolutely Fabulous was too spiteful to be funny. It invited us to laugh at female failure

25 June 2016 8:00 am

Absolutely Fabulous, which is about to make its cinema debut, is a comedy about women being useless. I watched it…

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