Playhouse, Edinburgh, Wed 7 Nov; Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Thu 8 Nov.

Grown men knocking each other about on-stage is either hilariously puerile or potentially fatal. And when you’ve been beating the crap out of someone as long as Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson have bet i doing to each other, you have to wonder just how much damage they’ve caused. Speaking from his Hull hotel room (having rushed, somewhat appropriately, from the lav to answer my call), Mayall claims to have come off worse over the bloody years.

‘I clipped Ade with our frying pan in Llandudno ard he had to have one stitch; he clipped me in Liverpool and I had to have four.’ Small beer when you consider their early, more freewheeling fisticuffs. ‘I did set fire to him in The Dangerous Brothers but that was his fault,’ Mayall insists. ‘He was supposed to be lying down but he was standing up. And he forgot the emergency word so he was just shouting, “trouser”, “bus shelter” and “help”. He gets pissed off with me when I start improvising during a fight because that’s stupid. But I get carried away because it’s Richie, not me.’

Mayall also gets a bit overexcited with life, because he very nearly lost

his three years back in a quad bike accident while holidaying in Devon. That left him in a coma with a fractured skull and two brain haemorrhages and a strong

six months later he began the process of churning out film, stage and TV work; the sole lasting effect is a slightly faulty memory for which he overcompensates by simply talking and talking. Even being told that his part in the Harry Potter movie has had to be cut leaves him largely non-plussed, though relieved with the comfort

that the pay packet brings him.

Now, after twenty years of being a young one, a dangerous brother, a b’stard, a flashheart, a comic stripper and generally filthy rich, Mayall is happy to take the plaudits of those fans who have stuck by him

ewe/rat ; JOHNNY VEGAS

Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 11 Nov.

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resolutely; and he is even more keen to stick two fractured fingers up at the critics who have panned almost everything the pair have done for the last ten possibility of dying. His recovery has been such that just years.

Now, uncensored live entertainment is where he gets his kicks. ‘Rock ‘n’ roll is now Steps and Hear’Say, basically dancers, but whatever happened to Alice Cooper? Or The Pistols; that was theatre, all about smashing the place up and being crap. When do you meet some fucking humans? When you go to the

theatre and then we all go on the rampage and smash

claims that he's sold out ("well in ‘97 l was sponsored by Hob Nobs. so I don't know if It's a step fonvard . . . ') Vegas has been working the shampoo into the show without getting the sponsors in a lather: 'To be honest I think they've been alarmed at how much We mentioned them. But yOu can't go Out there and do a sales pitch. I wouldn't take a sponsor if it meant dictatorship over what y0u can or can't talk about.‘ There is one taboo thougl‘ baldness. ‘Please remember it can't replace lost hair, it can only strengthen the remaining thinning hair,' he stresses like a manic salesman.

It's been a good year for Vegas. A sell- out run at the Edinburgh Fringe. TV success with Happiness. Attention

Scum and those ads With the puppet fOr l'lV have all meant that he's reaching a wider audience. picking up more fans along the way. The potter's wheel. a staple iii his early shows. no longer makes an appearance. but off-stage the Victoria & Albert Museun'i recently

the place apart and take over 10 Downing Street and then maybe I’ll get to shag Cherie. I’ve got a heavy bet on that.’ Still filthy Rich after all these years.

(Brian Donaldson)

bought one of his teapots for their ceramics collection. And there's no sign of him easing off the gas. with new series of Shooting Stars and Happiness coming soon and various other projects in development. ‘There's lots of promises on the horizon.“ he says, ‘if they happen, great. but there's always that “don‘t hold y0ur breath" thing with TV.‘

Having discovered that there's at least five other Johnny Vegas's scattered around the globe (including a Peruvian goalkeeper and an Elvis impersonator based in Finland) Vegas is prepared to fight for his rights: ‘l'm trying to get a

pay-per-view match organised where we

have an all-round entertainer competition culminating in a wrestling

match so that only one person can have

the name.‘ With his determination and not to mention a full head of lustrous hair, there‘s no question that Vegas will walk off With the trophy.

(Louisa Pearson)


Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Mon 5 Nov.

Jack Dee's image as the wizened old grump of comedy took a serious battering during a certain reality TV foray in the name of charity. Gone was the trademark besuited scowler, and out emerged a reluctant father figure and caring husband. According to Dee. this transformation was not as remarkable as it seemed: ‘The hard man of comedy was a phrase I coined when I wrote a John Smith ad. It was all about how I never compromised in my comedy and then a huge bag of money was placed on the table and I immediately started dancing with a penguin.‘

Even if Dee doesn't believe he has changed. winning Celebrity Big Brother seems to have eclipsed in one fell swoop everything that he has achieved in his career. A return to the live circuit. in a mammoth 50-date national tour. should re-instil in the public's consciousness his image as a serious comedian rather than a family light entertainment figure forever bogged down in the Vanessa Feltz and Anthea Turner camp.

Cuddly television work and questionable advertising endorsements may have chinked his dour facade. but can we expect a return to his miserably sharp satire in the live arena? ‘A lot of my show is to do with the bleakness of ageing and the fear of ill health,‘ explains Dee. “I'm giving a running commentary on my own life and that involves opening up the fears that lurk in my mind. It's a very healthy and cathartic process. Once you've got a heavy subject out. looked at it and laughed at it. it's then very hard to put it back in the serious drawer.‘ (Maureen Ellis)

A mean family man