The Quays Theatre was sun-kissed this evening, reflected in the warmth of an audience, anticipating the off kilter, from this Devon based Canadian.

I had not seen Craig live before. I could not help but be carried along on this swerve-ball ride by his love of life, and, celebration of cultural difference, even if a lot of the jokes were on us Brits.

Imagine an Iron Maiden roadie, mashed with Bill Bryson’s inner chimp let loose, fused with the stoner sensibilities of Zach Galifianakis’ Hangover role, plus Man-Mowgli like energy and you have my loose portrait of a thoroughly engaging comic with a fascination for what we make of each other.

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What you don’t get from Mark Steel is any sense of distance from the audience or standing on ceremony. What you do get is a man doing an impression of an average bloke from South London walking onstage and telling you what he thinks about life.

Then he invites you to join in. “Wot jew fink makes you wot you are? Nature or…. Yerrupbringin?” The audience says it’s the latter. As soon as he’s got their attention he gets them on his side “I woz adoptid” That all you get but it drags you in and gives shape to what would other be simply amazingly compacted riffs on growing up on a housing estate over the river “Where there’s nothing- just one pub for 30,000 people and the only leisure activity is petty crime.”

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The Funny Women Awards were launched in 2003, and last night, Contact in Manchester held one of the latest heats. Sponsored by Benefit Cosmetics, the awards offer women a chance to be mentored by past winners (including Sarah Millican and Sara Pascoe) as well as a whole host of exciting prizes. It also raises money for Refuge, a domestic violence charity and so it is all for a good cause. 

The venue for tonight’s acts was small to say the least. Perhaps ‘cosy’ is a better way of putting it, or even ‘intimate’, but either way, it was hardly the roaring crowd I was expecting. That said, it worked pretty well and if anything, it was a shame that there were not more people around to witness some of the hilarity that ensued on the small stage.

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It's Friday and I'm at the Comedy Store, it could only be ‘The Best In Stand Up’, tonight we were treated to five comedians and the compere/MC for the night was the rather brash, almost always shocking Mandy Knight, she warmed the audience well and her style was to shock, and that could come across just rude at times but it is worth noting Knight's audience participation with a hen party was brilliant and side splittingly funny.

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The Lowry Theatre Complex in Salford Quays opened its doors in October 2000 and since then its stage has been graced with many well-known comedians who have delivered stand-up comedy at its best. The Quays Theatre, one of the smaller auditoriums seating around 430, is the perfect setting for this evening’s entertainment of The All Star Stand Up Tour. The tour stars four of the best known comedians of today and promises to be an eventful and hilarious night if their recognitions in comedy are anything to go by.

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Confession time: I don’t think I’d heard of Carl Hutchinson before tonight, I am just a fan of comedy, and so I entered the studio with an open mind, hoping for a little bit of a laugh at least.

The show kicked off with Geordie Anth Young, who was easily one of the most natural comedians I have ever had the pleasure of watching. His jokes were quick, with great energy and a nice, easy flow. He didn’t seem at all like a support act (often nervous, perhaps a little inexperienced), but jumped right in with the jokes, none of which fell flat. In his short set, he touched on speed awareness courses, all-inclusive holidays and children. A very relatable, likeable guy. 

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Sean Lock is a fifty something comedian who made his stage debut over fifteen years ago, and is often seen on comedy panel shows such as Q.I. and Argumental although he is probably best known for his role as a team captain on 8 Out of 10 Cats which began in 2005. Sean Lock is held in high regard in the comedy circuit and attributes his influences to Eddie Izzard, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel.

As well as writing his own material, Sean Lock has also written comedy material for Bill Bailey, Mark Lamarr and Lee Evans. He won a British Comedy Award in 2000 for Best Live Comic and on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, he was voted the 19th greatest Stand Up Comic in 2010.

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The legendary Mr. Izzard, fresh and lean from his 27 marathons, came to Salford to play three shows in three languages, German, French, and English, to an intimate audience at the Lowry studio. This was a hot ticket and he didn't disappoint. Mr. Izzard was on top form, clearly enjoying himself in a pink beret, and the set was intelligent and playful, the hour ending far too quickly. He took us through the ages, from Ancient Greece and Rome to medieval England, to the Second World War, in a clever repertoire that didn't overly force the message of togetherness.

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The Comedy Store Manchester held its regular Thursday stand up hosted by the talented Rob Rouse.

Opening the show was M.C. Rob Rouse who interacted with the audience warming everyone up for an evening of comedy with his stories of being married with two small children.

First up was Paul Thorne one of Britain's most established and sought after stand-ups. As well as performing at all the U.K.'s major comedy venues and festivals he can be seen weekly at London's Comedy Store performing topical material based on the weeks news. Paul quickly engage the audience with his tales of adverse weather, cultural exchange, Malaysian Airways and the Taliban. Rob's constant banter with the audience was hilarious as he eased his way through his act.

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Perrier and Emmy Award-winning grouchy American Rich Hall brings us the “3:10 to Humour.” A train ride that is most definitely steam-driven - classic comedy delivery with a lot of Country and Western, from both sides of the Atlantic. You might have noticed the spelling of “Humour”, the British way; Rich admits that he loves Britain, he loved it so much that he married one and she’s from Liverpool.

Rich’s dry sense of humour and gruff southern drawl are very amusing - almost a grumpy old man ranting at the injustice and stupidity of the modern world but with clever insights and intelligent wit and satire.

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Let me preface this by saying the comedians had their work cut out for them at this comedy night. With a huge, rowdy crowd of colleagues on a work night out, each thinking they're comedians and drinking like sailors, it wasn't going to be easy. 

The compere for the evening was the wonderfully self-deprecating Phil Ellis. His audience interaction was second to none and there were surreal moments (involving a random guy in the audience and lip syncing to an iPhone), that had us all laughing. Despite the disruptive crowds, Ellis managed to tread the fine line between keeping things in order, without making it an uncomfortable atmosphere. 

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