Idiots Of Ants: This Is War, London
Another of the many alarmingly fresh-faced sketch troupes to have emerged over the last few years, Idiots Of Ants take the same high-energy approach to humour as peers like Pappy's Fun Club or The Penny Dreadfuls. But where those groups spend a lot of time building characters and an alternative world in which to embed their skits, Idiots Of Ants offer a more traditional sketch show, albeit one bulging with original ideas and vibrant, engaging performances. People often chide sketch shows for their hit-and-miss nature, but these four writer-performers (Elliott Tiney, Benjamin Wilson, James Wrighton and Andrew Spiers) have a success rate that stands comparison with many TV sketch shows (and operates in a vastly different league of quality to, for example, Horne And Corden). This latest show had a successful run at the Edinburgh fringe, where the Ants are an established cult favourite. Given a couple of years, it's not hard to imagine that translating into serious mainstream fame.
Ginglik, W12, Tue; Pleasance Islington, Thu to 5 Dec
Stewart Lee, On Tour
It'd be easy to misread the title of Stewart Lee's latest stand-up set – If You Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One – and imagine that here is another comic boasting about how "edgy", sweary or un-PC he is. Easy, that is, if you were unfamiliar with the class-leading deadpan contemplative stand-up Lee's been providing over the last 20 years. The title's more an indication of his unwillingness to compromise. Lee's past the point of caring about making concessions to audiences, and throws no bones to those who are too stubborn or wilfully dense to engage with his material (like Daily Mail reporter James Tapper, whose questionable misunderstanding of Lee's routine about Richard Hammond led to a five-minute tabloid storm earlier this year). For Lee, this isn't about elitism, but a pragmatic approach to creating good work, making money and staying sane.
Journal Tyne Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sat; The Lowry, Salford, Sun
[b]Angelos Epithemiou, London[/b]
One of the numerous good things about Vic and Bob is their ability to spot and foster first-class comedy talent. In their early Big Night Out days, they gave Simon Day his first TV exposure, long before he became the deadpan hub of the Fast Show. And it's hard to imagine Little Britain could ever have been a goer without the platform Shooting Stars gave Matt Lucas. The duo's latest discovery is Dan Renton Skinner, whose appearances as peculiar burger-van proprietor Angelos Epithemiou provided many of the highlights of the recent Stars comeback series. Skinner used to be part of innovative sketch group Dutch Elm Conservatoire, pipped by Laura Solon to the 2005 Perrier, but the nerdish Epithemiou could make his name. The character has a tendency towards hilarious outbreaks of full-throttle surrealism, as if he exists so far outside society that he has lost sight of all behavioural norms or logic.
Shepherds Bar, W14, Wed
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