Anyone strolling down Shaftesbury Avenue of late can’t fail to notice the sudden proliferation of stand-ups. Stellar comedians Eddie Izzard and Bill Bailey both brought their shows to town last week, taking residence at the Lyric and Gielgud theatres respectively.

Both performers arrive in the West End following world tours, with Izzard’s show Stripped having enjoyed a critically acclaimed US tour across 34 cities, including three sell-out dates over the summer at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Bailey meanwhile has been raising laughs with his show Tinselworm on the other side of the world, in Australia and New Zealand, following a UK stadium tour in 2007.

Bailey’s last stand-up show in the West End was Part Troll four years ago (See News, 7 Oct 2004). Last year, he made his West End acting debut in Pinter’s People, a collection of Harold Pinter sketches, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket (See News, 9 Jan 2007). The British Comedy Award winner is also familiar to TV fans for Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Black Books.

Eddie Izzard\'s previous West End acting credits include David Mamet’s The Cryptogram, Lenny (in which he played legendary American comedian Lenny Bruce) and, most recently, Peter Nichols’ A Day in the Death of Joe Egg in 2001. His screen acting credits include Ocean’s Thirteen, Ocean’s Twelve, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Blueberry, The Avengers, Velvet Goldmine and the upcoming Valkyrie, opposite Tom Cruise, on film; and The Riches and 40 on television.

Stripped continues at the Lyric until 12 December 2008, while Tinselworm stays until 20 December.

- By Theo Bosanquet