School For Gifted Children Holiday Special, London
After promoting a star-studded run of rationalist Christmas celebrations, Robin Ince is cutting a sizeable niche for himself as British comedy’s most prominent critic of organised religion. For many, his clever pedantry and bursts of righteous anger make him the stand-up corollary to the pop-science/philosophy case offered up by Dawkins, Hitchens and the rest. But for Ince himself, provoking the faithful is far less important than providing eclectic, original entertainment to a receptive and thoughtful audience. That’s the main aim of the School For Gifted Children, a sporadic series of nights geared towards lightly cerebral humour. Ince will be welcoming two bona fide legends this week, with comic-book author Alan Moore making a live appearance as well as the more familiar figure of Stewart Lee. Bringing two such offbeat, fresh-thinking minds together offers not so much a twist on the traditional stand-up club bill, but more of a gentle rebuke of that format’s failings.
Bloomsbury Theatre, WC1, Mon
Channel 4 Comedy Gala, London
Charity gigs come in all shapes and sizes, from a bunch of stand-ups passing the hat round in a room above a pub to this, a Channel 4-backed night to benefit Great Ormond Street which features one of the most celeb-heavy lineups you’re likely to see anywhere this year. As Peep Show is unequivocally the network’s biggest comedy hit in recent years, it’s all the more fitting to have David Mitchell (pictured) as one of the main attractions, doing a relatively rare live turn. Among those joining him at the O2 are Channel 4 regulars like Sean Lock, Jack Whitehall and the Fonejacker, but the net’s also been spread wide enough to include the likes of Jonathan Ross and Gavin & Stacey stars Ruth Jones and James Corden. And given the charity involved, you can’t rule out a last-minute cameo from Sir Alan Sugar. If you can’t get a ticket, you’ll be able to see the whole thing on TV next month.
O2 Arena, SE10, Tue
Whoops Apocalypse, DVD
Misguided American interventions creating havoc in the Middle East; a US president whose imbecility leaves him open to manipulation by a raving evangelical Christian lobby; a British PM blind to advice and suffering delusions of Godlike powers … eerily, this vision of the Blair-Bush years isn’t a freshly-minted satire, but comes from a phenomenally prescient and funny 1982 series now released on DVD for the first time. Whoops Apocalypse includes John Cleese’s only post-Basil sitcom lead role as Lacrobat, whose antics include accidentally cremating a nuclear warhead, adopting the memorable alias of Yaphet von Buggery, and trying to move a seven-foot stone phallus over an international border. The six episodes come packaged together with the spin-off movie, which doesn’t quite match up to the original but does offer an enjoyably demented turn from Peter Cook.
Network DVD, £19.99, out Monday