LEE Evans has spent the last couple of years making films and television programmes, and now he can't wait to get back to his first love - stand-up comedy.

"I've been off doing telly and films, but I don't kid myself... my job is stand-up," he says.

"When I'm working on something else, rather than lounging around on set, I'll always be writing routines for my live act. After two years of doing that, I think to myself 'maybe I can make something funny out of all this'." Invariably, he can.

Evans' mesmerising, high-octane brand of physical comedy makes for an electrifying show, and it has turned him into one of Britain's most popular live performers.

Somebody once said that watching Lee Evans on stage is more exhausting than running a marathon.

His unique stand-up style has won him praise since he first came on to the scene in 1993.

Now he's set to sweat in all his glory in a series of warm-up dates in Cardiff ahead of a massive UK autumn tour.

Now established as one of Britain's best-loved and biggest comedy stars, ex-boxer and star of There's Something About Mary, Evans has captured audiences' imaginations with his irrepressible physicality and disarming charm.

It's no longer just stand-up he's known for. His last film, Freeze Frame, was a psychological thriller.

And he's become a star of the West End in Samuel Beckett's seminal play Endgame alongside Michael Gambon, and with Richard Dreyfuss in the musical The Producers.

After leaving art school, Evans spent six years touring clubs all across the British Isles and, eventually, on what became the alternative comedy circuit, gaining a regular weekly spot at London's famous Comedy Store.

Like a lot of new comics, Lee's break came in 1993 when he took the Edinburgh Festival by storm and won the prestigious Perrier Award.

Success has since continued unabated and in October 2002 Evans became the first solo comedian to play Wembley Arena for two sell-out nights performing to 20,000 people.

Evans appears at Cardiff's Glee Club on July 7, 21, 22, 23. Contact 0870 2415093 for ticket info.

He also plays Cardiff's CIA October 26-28. Contact 02920 224488.