Alternative Comedy

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ToddB

  • Tuesday 17th May 2011, 5:22am
  • Townsville, Australia
  • 563 posts

I am a big fan of the generation known as the 'Alternative Comedians' that emerged in the late seventies and eighties and were featured, early in, in clubs like The Comedy Store and The Comic Strip.

I have been reading a fantastic book about them, called "Didn't You Kill My Mother-In-Law?" by roger Wilmut and Peter Rosengard. there is another I own called "That's Anarchy" by Chrissie Macdonald.

Comedians include Victoria Wood, Mayall and Edmonson, Richardson and Planer, French and Saunders, Alxei Sayle, Pauline Melville, Frost and Arden, Ben Elton, Keith Allen, Arnold Brown, Helen Lederer, Jenny Eclaire and many, many others.

Some programmes created by these comedians are "The Young Ones", "Happy Families", "Girls On Top", "The Comic Strip Presents...", "Saturday/Friday Live" "Filthy Rich and Catlflap", "Bottom", "French and Saunders", Absolutely Fabulous" "Blackadder" "Jam and Jerusalem", "The Thin Blue Line", "The Life and Times of vivienne Vyle", "Rik Mayall Presents", "Teenage Kicks", Victoria Wood's programmes and so many more.

who else likes them, and what are your favourites?

Who else has followed in their footsteps more recently? :)

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youngian

  • Tuesday 17th May 2011, 11:59am
  • England
  • 1,727 posts

There is a stand-up show coming up soon featuring the early comic strip crowd called the 1981 show or something (according to Stewart Lee on Richard Bacon's Fivelive show last week).

Some of the performers hated the pejorative 'alternative' tag and argued they were just comedians and not an alternative anything. In fact they still told the same mum-in-law jokes but just inserted Thatcher's name in. Bit like today's comedians whose Premier league footballer jokes are basically recycled 70s thick Paddy gags.

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ToddB

  • Tuesday 17th May 2011, 12:27pm
  • Townsville, Australia
  • 563 posts

i think the 'alternative' comedians aimed their jokes at politcal targets and tried to keep things a bit more immediate, rather than aiming at gender sstereotypes et cetera.

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youngian

  • Tuesday 17th May 2011, 1:01pm
  • England
  • 1,727 posts
Quote: ToddB @ May 17 2011, 12:27 PM BST

i think the 'alternative' comedians aimed their jokes at politcal targets and tried to keep things a bit more immediate, rather than aiming at gender sstereotypes et cetera.


That's a fair point and the few comedians who still do political material (Marks Steel and Thomas, Rob Newman) are again outside of the mainstream.

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Nogget

  • Thursday 19th May 2011, 1:36pm
  • England
  • 6,615 posts
Quote: youngian @ May 17 2011, 11:59 AM BST


Some of the performers hated the pejorative 'alternative' tag


I've never heard it used in the pejorative.
Doesn't surprise me that they didn't like the tag though, it often happens that a convenient label is used for contemporaneous artists who have nothing else in common. A lot of punk bands were similarly branded without their consent.

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Tony Cowards

  • Thursday 19th May 2011, 4:16pm
  • Wiltshire, England
  • 1,762 posts
Quote: Nogget @ May 19 2011, 1:36 PM BST

I've never heard it used in the pejorative.
Doesn't surprise me that they didn't like the tag though, it often happens that a convenient label is used for contemporaneous artists who have nothing else in common. A lot of punk bands were similarly branded without their consent.


In the eighties, "Alternative comedy" was often described as being an "alternative" to being funny, mostly by people in mainstream comedy or those who were it's supporters.

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Nogget

  • Thursday 19th May 2011, 4:46pm
  • England
  • 6,615 posts
Quote: Tony Cowards @ May 19 2011, 4:16 PM BST

In the eighties, "Alternative comedy" was often described as being an "alternative" to being funny


You're right of course, but that's a subversion of the intended meaning, which was an 'alternative' to the existing conventional comedy. It wasn't intended to be a pejorative term, was it. (Was it?)

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Tony Cowards

  • Friday 20th May 2011, 11:01am
  • Wiltshire, England
  • 1,762 posts
Quote: Nogget @ May 19 2011, 4:46 PM BST

You're right of course, but that's a subversion of the intended meaning, which was an 'alternative' to the existing conventional comedy. It wasn't intended to be a pejorative term, was it. (Was it?)


No the original meaning wasn't meant to be pejorative, it meant "alternative to the mainstream" but the 'mainstream' people used it as a pejorative term as they believed it was an "alternative" to being funny.