The Guardian’s review of Russell Howard’s current show has caused a minor stir in the comedy community (ok, in one group on Facebook that I’m a member of). The reviewer’s main criticism seems to be that although Howard is funny, and from what I can tell, consistently so, he doesn’t have any agenda to speak of, no main purpose to tie the two-hour show together. This has surprised me somewhat. The style of comedy that I enjoy the most is what I call ‘Stand-up Theatre’, i.e., something that is much closer to a scripted show that progresses towards a conclusion than a front-cloth comedian telling a string of jokes. I love the purpose and intent of Mark Thomas, who crafts stand-up shows almost as a side-quest to publicise his life-changing campaign work, or Bridget Christie’s agenda-driven comedy. Stewart Lee’s meta-analysis of comedy is not quite as noble, perhaps, but incredibly clever and thought-provoking. Do we now require more of our big-name comedians than just ‘being funny’? I think so. It’s easy enough to make people laugh, but these days, it can be hard to make them think. If we’ve got their attention, Russell, why not make good use of it?