Preview: The Week Ahead March 18 - 24

UK Devotees of Louis CK were surprised when the caustic American stand-up announced that he was joining the big boys and appearing at the O2 Arena on March 20. He later added two further back-to-back shows at the Hammersmith Apollo on March 21, but this is still not much comfort for fans who live a long way from London. Or fans who prefer their bleak, misanthropic observational comedy in a more intimate space.

But tickets were snapped up – any left can be bought via his website here – so Louis CK is clearly doing something right. His bitter and twisted truth bombs clearly touch a a nerve and the success of his show, Louie, aired on Fox, also helps. If you've never encountered him before read this or try to imagine a midpoint between Seinfeld's vanilla wit and Doug Stanhope's angry misery. All brilliantly delivered by a master of the art of raging stand-up.

If Louis CK takes conventional comedy into some unconventional places the same could probably be said for Russell Brand, who plays another mega-venue charity gig in London on March 20 following his Wembley Arena Comic Relief gig two weeks ago. This time round Brand is part of the Teenage Cancer Trust's music and comedy shows at the Royal Albert Hall.

The full line-up is still under wraps, but Brand is worth the ticket price alone – a lot of people hate him but I love the way he rips up the rule book and does his own thing. He will be reunited tonight with Noel Fielding – they appeared here a few years ago as the self-styled Goth Detectives. The best moments at the Comic Relief gig were when Brand went walkabout in the audience so I hope we get a repeat of that. One reviewer compared him to Jesus mingling with his disciples – Brand is certainly charismatic but he's not the messiah, though he is definitely a very naughty boy.

Comedy is all about timing and who knows, if Paul Tonkinson had come along a few years later maybe he could already have been as big as Peter Kay or Michael McIntyre. Like them he deals in straight-forward no-nonsense observational comedy, saying the things that we all think but have never quite managed to turn into a lucrative stand-up routine.

Tonkinson's show at The Leicester Square Theatre from Thursday to Saturday is called Fancy Man – the title comes from one of his best routines about northerners being accused of getting airs and graces when they move south and start wearing pretentious things like shoes...and socks. Go and see Tonkinson – he isn't doing anything new but he might just knock your pretentious socks off.

 

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