Preview: Leap year laughs, comedy nights in February

Big names, upcoming talent and even a funny German — Leap Year February has something to tickle everyone's funny bone. SIMON PARKIN previews comedy shows not to miss.


Norwich Playhouse, February 15, returns only, 01603 598598,

Norwich Playhouse has such a good reputation among comedians that it is frequently able to attract names capable of selling out much bigger venues and recently it is also been a favoured stopping off point for big name stand-ups looking to polish up their arena shows.

That's just what brings Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert back to the venue he long ago out grew — going on to appear on just about every comedy show on TV as well as presenting Ask Rhod Gilbert on BBC1.

This is therefore a treat for comedy fans. For one night only, he will be previewing material for his forthcoming tour. It's a rare opportunity to see one of the leading UK comedians back in intimate surroundings. You'll need to move fast though, tickets are sure to go fast.

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Norwich Playhouse, February 16/17, �12, 01603 598598,

Proving beyond any doubt that Germans do have a sense of humour, Henning Wehn, who had been a popular fixture on the stand-up circuit for a few years, seems to have finally made the breakthrough into the mainstream.

The self-styled German Comedy Ambassador to the UK and has appeared on numerous shows in the past few months including Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth, Five Live's Fighting Talk and TV's 8 out of 10 Cats, Have I Got News For You and QI.

He has become a familiar pundit giving his idiosyncratic views on the English and the rest of Europe.

Henning, who has long been resident in this country and has spent that time acutely observing the quirks of his adopted homeland, is following up last year's show entitled My Struggle with his 2011 offering No Surrender and comedy fans can see it over two nights at Norwich Playhouse.

Tuetonic jolliness at its best.


Norwich Arts Centre, February 21, �12 (310 cons), 01603 660352,

Quirky and irreverant, Bridget Christie has made the improbable leap from showbiz diary hack on the Daily Mail to stand-up headliner.

A walking bundle of contradictions, Bridget Christie is an actor turned stand-up who doesn't think she's very funny and claims 'not to be sociable' but is a natural raconteur: easy, entertaining and garrulous and a bundle of contradictions.

In 2005, Christie was nominated for the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year. It was at the after party that she first met fellow comedian Stewart Lee, and the pair were married just over a year later.

A regular panellist on Radio 4′s News Quiz and with six successful Edinburgh shows on her CV, she arrives in Norwich with her show Housewife Surrealist which may or may not see her hand out communion wafers, eat a banana, explain religion, suggest how Ken Clarke should eat a toad in the hole, and re-enact The Ascension of Christ using a fishing rod.


Carrow Road, Norwich, February 23, �12, 0844 8261902,

Those nice folk at Red Card return another of their hugely popular Carrow Road shows that can always be relied upon to provide a top notch bill of some of the best stand-up talent on the circuit.

This month they welcome back Rob Deering (pictured), a favourite with Norwich audiences who has previously reached the finals of the BBC New Comedy Award. A brief spell writing theme tunes, pop songs and jingles, his stand-up comedy career began in earnest in 2000, although he had already spent a decade or so finding any excuse to get up on stage, leading, for example, to a legendary sing-a-long of the Home And Away theme tune late one night at the Edinburgh Festival in 1994.

Also on the bill is Jeremy O'Donnell who mixes sharp one liners with friendly story telling and sparkling off the cuff wit. His cheeky smile and friendly nature have endeared him to audiences all over Britain and as far a field as the comedy hotspots of Bahrain and Zurich.

Nick Page got into comedy for a bet. He turned professional four months after his first open mic appearance, helped by working with Steve Coogan's Baby Cow production company. You may recognise him from presenting three series of BBC's Escape to the Country.