The comedian Andrew Maxwell is doing something unusual next week (13-20 May). He's off on a short tour of London, just London, with a show – Andrew Maxwell's London Loves – that's about and for the city. "Marking 20 years living in London," runs the blurb (the comedian is originally a Dubliner), "Maxwell casts his eye over the capital to offer a topical and regional standup show." I can't think of many precedents. I remember Will Adamsdale taking his fantastic Jackson's Way on a tour of the capital ("the London Jacksathon" ) a few years ago, but the show wasn't London-specific – just eccentric – and so that touring model made a skewiff kind of sense.
But Maxwell is choosing to be local, and to limit his audience – which is counter to comedy's current gigantism. If you listen to Eddie Izzard, you'd think that standup was inadequate if it didn't automatically appeal to everyone on planet Earth. "[My work] could go to the capital of Serbia, or Moscow, and they'd know what I'm talking about," he said in a recent interview. "The key thing is making your stuff international, making it universal. You've got to have an international viewpoint."
To which the obvious answer is: no, you don't. As Maxwell's initiative demonstrates, plenty of people are turning away from the homogenous and global towards the specific and local. Just as in politics (the rise of Ukip, Scottish independence) local identity is kicking back against transnational forces, so too there's an appetite for art and entertainment that operates at a regional level. And, even more than other artforms, comedy is culture-specific. What we laugh at is conditioned, to an extent, by where we come from and the reference points we share. Observational comedy, in particular, works by corralling its audience into a community of recognition – although the result is often bland because the community strained for is too large, and local or idiosyncratic personality is sacrificed in pursuit of it.
Local comedy works in a similar way but delivers a more intense hit, because the constituency is smaller and its concerns are less often given the kind of status that comes with a microphone and a main stage.
Maxwell's endeavour isn't unique. I'm sure every region of Britain has one or two entertainers (but not as many as there used to be) whose parochial fame is matched only by their national obscurity. The last time I experienced local humour was at Christmas at Perth theatre's panto, where the biggest laughs were for jokes that no one from further away than Tayside and Fife would remotely comprehend.
It strikes me that that is a worthwhile laugh to seek, and fair play to Maxwell for doing so. Now let's see if his idea catches on. Will we soon see John Bishop touring Liverpool venues with a "topical and regional" show for scouse audiences? Ditto Sarah Millican on Tyneside, or Kevin Bridges in Glasgow? We've got comedians with strong regional identities; I'd love to hear what they'd say exclusively to their own, local audience. Even, or especially, if I didn't understand a word of it.
Three to see
Am I Right, Ladies?
Luisa Omielan's first show, What Would Beyoncé Do?, started life on the Brighton free fringe. The rest is – well, success on a scale that Omielan never imagined. Now she brings the work-in-progress version of her follow-up back to where it all began.
• 10 May. Box office: 01273 624434. Venue: Caroline of Brunswick, Brighton
It's theatre, not comedy, but anyone interested in the art of making people laugh should see Bob Golding's tour de force performance as one half of the nation's (still) favourite double act, first performed on the Edinburgh Fringe five years ago.
• 9 and 10 May. Box office: 0300 026 6600. Venue: Gala theatre, Durham. Then touring.
Cooked up by the comic Will Mars, Joke Thieves is a new format which sees standups perform one another's material. A mix of mutual piss-take, mutual inspiration and full-blown deconstruction of the act of comedy, the event provides, in the words of one recent critic, "a truly electric night".
• 13 May. Box office: 020-8340 1028. Venue: the King's Head, London