(Issue 96) 
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In a leap of faith that could amount to professional suicide, we hand the keys over to our first ever guest editor, Birmingham comedian and TV regular, Joe Lycett, who wants to start this week's issue by telling you about his favourite (and not so favourite) Brum haunts. Best of luck everyone...
"It feels like a tapas place in both food and in how they've decorated. It's a cobbled together, family run gem with, inexplicably, posters on the ceiling. It's completely on its own in a bizarre corner of Digbeth and has succeeded not because of foot fall - far from it, there's nobody within 1000 metres - but by how absolutely brilliant it is. It costs about £12 a head, the portions are great and food is heavenly." 
"I love the sentiment at Provide. The owner, Matt's approach is very much about going with the flow and that's why I will always want to live in Brum and never move to London. This city goes with the flow. Pretension levels are so low here and Provide embodies that. I wore one of his t-shirts - a Central Library tee - on Countdown. It's sold out now, but this Spaghetti Junction tee is still available."
"My favourite pub, bar none. All of life is there, in a relaxed setting - the sort of place you’ll see a super cool DJ having a pint with their mum. It's a brilliant cross-section of life, a really nice mix of good people and weird music. I was heartbroken when they stopped selling Coors Light, mind you."
"I'm sulking with them. For a long time they did this avocado and feta smash with a poached egg, but you can no longer have the poached egg because, in their words, "the kitchen was struggling to cope". With an egg? It's still the best coffee in the entire city, particularly if made by Alistair, so don’t let my petty poached egg protest put you off."
"Weird, inventive food. Exactly the sort of stuff that Birmingham needs to be doing. Founder Alex Claridge, who is a complete lunatic in the most wonderful way, is pushing people's palates from the Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath. But it's still accessible stuff. It's not completely batsh*t crazy, it's well constructed and thoughtful with a slightly insane spirit." 
"This is where I became obsessed with the idea of doing comedy. I went with school mates to see a guy called Tom Stade. I remember getting heckler complex and being annoyed that my friends were finding him funnier than me and that set off a chain of events that put me on this silly road. Many comics think it's the best room for comedy in the entire country."
"Here's a brief list of places to steer clear of. The German Market - What is the point? It’s soulless, packaged up devil's work. I find it really over-bearing and it unnecessarily pours all the way down New Street. Oh and Turtle Bay and The Botanist can both get in the bin. Don't open a place called The Botanist then put plastic flowers everywhere."
Buy tickets to Joe's tour - That's The Way, A-Ha, A-Ha, Joe Lycett - at Birmingham's Glee Club, here.


In a fortuitous coincidence of issue-making proportions, the line-up for Birmingham Comedy Festival has just been announced (seriously, not even a little bit planned) and here are Joe's top picks, forcibly extracted of course. Kick off with Tom Stade (pictured, right) at Comedy Junction "The reason I got into comedy, the exceptional Tom Stade brings his show to this intimate club that's had a remarkable list of A-List comedy stars grace its modest stage. Stade’s got some of the funniest routines you’ll ever see. Unmissable." Or try Nish Kumar (left) at Glee Club "Kumar’s brand of accessible but intelligent comedy has made him a massive hit at international festivals. My favourite of his sharp routines is an annoyingly funny series of observations about Monopoly." Rough Works also forms part of the festival: "Birmingham’s finest (and some from further afield) attempt new material every month. Expect local stalwarts like Andy Robinson and Karen Bayley alongside special guests like Sarah Millican. There are exciting newer acts here too - look out for Lindsay Santoro (pictured) and Andrew McBurney."

Birmigham Comedy Festival runs from October 2 - 11 at venues across Brum.
Venue: Cherry Reds, 88-90 John Bright Street, B1 1BN; website
Choice: Diddy Veggie Breakfast (£4) Chooser: Joe Lycett

Joe says: "Surely this is Birmingham's best value breakfast? There's three colossal slices of halloumi. That's, like, half a pack. Which is worth about £3, so you're already well on your way to making your money back in halloumi alone, before you factor in the Linda McCartney sausage (only the good stuff, none of that Quorn nonsense), perfectly runny egg, beans and toast. Halloumi is my heroin. I eat it daily. My death row meal would be just halloumi. Nothing else. I have no idea how the hell Cherry Reds even make money when they sell brekkie at this price but I don’t care. Why aren't you here, now, eating it, instead of at work, not eating it? Also they do an incredible ice cream sundae, in which you pick a slice of cake and they blast it together with marshmallow and ice cream and all sorts. Not so good for breakfast." Menu here.


A next generation online gadget retailer has launched in Brum and we're all over its product numero uno, the Gadultboard (pictured, £399). Big in Hong Kong, the self-balancing, electric transportation device (catchy, eh?) moves with you - rotate your ankles forward, backward or in opposite directions to turn the device. It's this easy, apparently. And if you've got precisely £499 to spare, the advanced board comes with built in Bluetooth speakers, LED lights and large wheels for conquering rough ground. Joe says "The Gadultboard is the new way to travel in the Midlands. With the buses in Brum being so extortionate and still refusing to give change, I've decided this is the only way to get about. Expect to see me on the hard shoulder of the M42 on one of these bad boys in the near future."


Joe's review (having NOT seen the film)
What a boring film. Some wolves badly attempt to be boys. There is a funny bit where one of them howls near the moon and the others panic because they think they will be discovered, but other than that it's just a series of shots of wolves trying to do human things like work out how to put cutlery in the dishwasher and post to Instagram.
Our reviewer's review (having actually seen the film)
The six Agulo brothers were held in near-total isolation by their eccentric father for more than a decade: this amazing documentary looks at their tentative emerging into a bustling New York they barely knew was there. It’s tricky to categorise, but this will linger long in the mind.
  • Stirchley-on-Sea is this very night. And if you have no idea what we're talking about, get to Loaf from 7pm and tuck in to Lap and the team's top Thai seafood. Eat in or take away
  • It's Digbeth Dining Club's third birthday and they're throwing one helluva party by way of celebration. From 5.30pm tomorrow. Expect at least fifteen vendors - yeh, you heard
  • Full Beam Film Festival comes to Kidderminster this weekend and the fact that that's a bit of drive from Brum works in your favour. It's a drive through cinema showing The Big Lebowski and more
  • In partnership with Moët, Michelin big hitter Anthony Demetre, is at The Balcony at Selfridges on October 1, for a one-off night of food, vin and bubbles. There are seventy spaces at £90 a pop here
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"I absolutely refuse to write comedy about halloumi. It is too precious." - Joe Lycett
WORDS: Joe LycettKaty Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen
PICTURES: Floyd King Photography (Lindsay Santoro)
I CHOOSE Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA

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