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Fun-ny times ahead

Trudie Robinson welcomes the Kings of comedy to the city

Published on September 7th 2007.

Fun-ny times ahead

It’s that time of year when the big names of the comedy world place their most precious objects in a spotted hanky and hit the tarmac; when numerous theatres across the country open their doors to the comedic waifs and let them in to ply their wares.

Some even cheat and pop back home between gigs but still, to look at their tour dates it’s easy enough to conjure an imaginary scene of gaudily painted watering cans and horse drawn carts forming the transport in place of the far more likely Virgin Pendolino.

In the next few months there’s a bumper crop of comics visiting the city including the Grandaddy of the comedy circuit, Billy Connolly (23-25 Sept), a man endorsed with so many greatest comedian ever titles his mantle must be bowing.

Also visiting in September is Sean Hughes (Lowry, 23 Sept), the youngest ever Perrier winner at 24, now in his forties and returning to stand up after years cooped up in studios, a prisoner of panel shows and comedic drama. Of returning to stand up Hughes has commented, “I’ve been away for a while speaking other people’s words, and to my disappointment got passed over for Maria, missed out on Joseph and clearly wasn’t a contender for Britain’s Got Talent, now I’m gagging to be on the loose again and let rip,” Never mind, they don’t know skill when they see it. He’s looking forward to it too. “Stand-up gives me an enormous thrill, I never get nervous. It feels very natural to me. I love the spontaneity of performing live, when I go on stage, so many different thoughts come bursting out of me that it takes me ten minutes just to say hello. I really like the fact that on the night, anything might happen. Every single performance is totally different.”

Bemused star of Father Ted and (the less said about) My Hero, Ardal O’Hanlon is back on tour after returning to stand up two years ago (Lowry, Sept 30). Also returning to stand up is cheeky Brummie and David Baddiel’s pal Frank Skinner (Lowry 7 Oct and 11 Nov) and like Hughes has, he’s already completed a short run at the Edinburgh festival in preparation for his tour.

Ross Noble, wins the furthest travelled competition - if there was one - as he returns from Australia where he lives for half of the year to perform four dates at the Opera House as part of his UK tour. No doubt all will be sublime, off the cuff comedy and each show different (Opera House, 3-6 Oct). Mid October also brings the Manchester Comedy Festival.

Into November Russell Howard (Lowry, 6 Nov) Edinburgh festival favourite and adorable youngster pops by with his latest tour. Given his rock sensibilities it’s surprising that Bill Bailey (Manchester Arena, 13, 15, 16 Nov) hasn’t done a stadium gig before now but filling an arena is a daunting prospect for any comedian. Bailey is taking the risk and there’s probably not much of a problem for him.

The underrated talents of Sean Lock hit town later in the month (Lowry, 5 & 6 Dec). Lock is blessed with a lovely surreal edge delivered with a deceptive po-face. It’s a crime that his 15 Storeys High wasn’t re-commissioned by the BBC after just two short series.So get the credit cards at the ready and log on.

The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays. 08707 875780 www.thelowry.com Manchester Arena, Victoria Station, City. 0844 847 8000 www.men-arena.comManchester Apollo Stockport Road, Ardwick. 0870 401 8000www.livenation.co.ukOpera House, Quay Street, City. 0870 163 3402 www.livenation.co.uk

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