Preview: The Week Ahead March 11 - 17

Loretta Maine started life as a tiny part of comedian Pippa Evans' repertoire but has now blossomed into a full blown comedy monster. The kohl-eyed Maine is a Country and Western crooner who when not swigging from a bottle is singing about how life has been cruel to her. It's a cleverly crafted full-on performance that frequently involves sitting on the laps of poor unfortunate gentlemen in the front row. In her latest show, Bipolar, which opens at the Soho Theatre on Tuesday, she also sings about the variety of pseudo-KFC chicken shops tin the UK. Beat that, Dolly Parton.

Richard Peppiatt is the journalistic equivalent of a poacher-turned-gamekeeper as well as a reporter-turned-stand-up. He used to doorstep people to get stories for the Daily Star, but now, in his serious-yet-satirical live show, One Rogue Reporter, he explores the seedy side of the British press and reveals how he doorstepped various tabloid editors in an attempt to confront them about the ethics of red top newspapers. When I reviewed Peppiatt during his run at the Soho Theatre last autumn I said that he was no Michael McIntyre and he took that as a compliment, which is fair enough. There are no man drawer observational gags here, but plenty of laughs to be had at the tackiness of the Mail's "sidebar of shame" and in tales of Peppiatt's own exploits, donning a burqa and – not on the same job – interviewing a stuffed meerkat. Catch his one-off gig in London this Wednesday at the Front Line Club, as part of a national tour. Full dates here.

The genre of mentalism has been dominated by Derren Brown for so long now it is about time someone else came along to give him pause for thought. Chris Cox may be just that man. When I saw his show in Edinburgh he guessed my favourite food and my favourite sport without breaking sweat. Either he's a warlock or he has hacked into my computer. I don't know how he does it, but he seems to know everything. He headlines the magic night at intimate sexy nightclub Madam Jojo's this Friday where I can't even tell if the waiters are men or women and is also putting on his own magic night at St James Theatre on Saturday.

The Invisible Dot company has a reputation for beautifully designed flyers and  interesting, inventive comedy. This Sunday two of its regulars, Tim Key and Tom Basden, reunite for their stupidly experimental show, Freeze! to mark four years of Invisible Dot things. A few years ago the duo co-starred in the BBC sketch show Cowards – anyone remember the smoking judges on the roof? – which in years to come will surely be seen as a cult classic. The quietly debauched Key, of course, also won the Edinburgh Comedy Award, while young Ralph Fiennes lookalike Basden writes lovely songs and has also penned episodes of Fresh Meat and Peep Show and is about to star in new sitcom Plebs. Expect banter, sketches, stories, music and Key gently bullying Basden.

 

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