Comedy night has a laugh at literature

THE list of the acts in comedy night The Book Club makes unusual reading. Readings from the autobiography of Syd Litte, a man playing covers of Radiohead songs on an accordian, another pretending to be Cure singer Robert Smith riding a skateboard and a third who bangs nails up his nose.

The eclectic line-up is the brainshild of stand-up comedian and avid reader Robin Ince. The show, which has been running as a monthly club night in London since January last year and is now going on the road, is a reaction, he says, against the predictability of many comedy nights.

Robin says: "I was disinterested in those comedy evenings are sandwiched between the audience stuffing their faces with chicken goujons.

"Since I was just a speccy kid I've always skulked around bookshops. Much later when I was feeling rather bored with my stand-up act I started reading from a Mills and Boon novel set around a lighthouse. It got a great response and I thought to myself I should do this more often.'"

Robin found plenty of like-minded people during his regular appearances at the Edinburgh fringe festival. They jumped at the chance to appear with him, principally, it seems, because their acts were too strange to do regular stand-up.

The result is a risk-taking, unpredictable evening the lie of which has not been seen since Vic Reeves had his Big Night Out. The literary allusions are not as highbrow as you might think.

"I've got a brilliant one on my desk right now," says Robin from his publicists' London offices, "Did Spaceman Colonise The Earth? I may read from that at some point.

"We are all about finding weird and wonderful books and sharing them. There's nothing elitist in it. We are not going to give the audience a reading list that they have to cover to prepare for the show."

However, the audience are encouraged to bring along some bizarre reading to share. Robin says: "We would love people to bring books with them. I find the best place for hunting them out are charity shops and seaside towns for some reason."

The club at Lowdown At The Albany has been running for more than a year now. With seven or more acts on each night and with shows regualrly over-running into the morning there is no end of material to take on the road.

Robin says: "The touring show will act as a greatest hits. We will be packing all the best suff that has gone into the club into one show."

The show comes to the Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, on Friday, April 7. To book, call .

1:53pm Friday 7th April 2006

By Mark Edwards