The Alternative Comedy Experience. Image shows from L to R: Josie Long, David Kay, Stewart Lee, Henning Wehn, Simon Munnery, Paul Sinha, Phil Nichol, Tony Law, Paul Foot. Copyright: Comedy Central
The Alternative Comedy Experience

The Alternative Comedy Experience

  • TV stand-up
  • Comedy Central
  • 2013 - 2014
  • 25 episodes (2 series)

Stewart Lee curates a series of stand-up nights featuring alternative comedians. Recorded for Comedy Central.

Press clippings Page 3

Alternative Comedy Experience new series/DVD announced

The second series of Comedy Central's Alternative Comedy Experience is due to start in February 2014 but before then a DVD of the first series is to be released on November 18.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 1st October 2013

Stewart Lee: The elite have 'stitched up' comedy

British comedy has undergone an elitist 'stitch-up', with poorer performers being 'priced out' of success, Stewart Lee has claimed.

Jay Richardson, Chortle, 8th July 2013

Baconface heads up Alternative Comedy Experience

Added to the ranks of explicitly political comics like Josie Long and Andy Zaltzman are the staunchly left-wing Grainne Maguire, libertarian, instinctive contrarian Liam Mullone and the uncompromising, anti-consumerist Alfie Brown.

Jay Richardson, The Scotsman, 5th July 2013

Alternative Comedy Experience Series 2 line-up confirmed

The line-up for the second series of The Alternative Comedy Experience, Stewart Lee's Comedy Central stand-up show, has been confirmed.

British Comedy Guide, 29th May 2013

Comedy Central orders Alternative Comedy Experience Series 2

Comedy Central has ordered a second series of The Alternative Comedy Experience, the stand-up show curated by Stewart Lee.

British Comedy Guide, 30th April 2013

The Alternative Comedy Experience is a show 'curated' by Stewart Lee to showcase what he considers to be some of the most exciting stand-ups around today. As with most undertakings by Lee, this is in no way meant to pander to the general population. The show features a line-up of stand up comedians, cutting between sections of their material and backstage clips with Lee himself interviewing the acts. The line-up is predictably eclectic, this week featuring Andy Zaltzmann, Glenn Wool, Stephen Carlin, Sam Simmons and Maeve Higgins.

It's unlikely that you'll enjoy every stand up on each show, but the mix of styles and material mean that you are almost certain to find something that you will like, and maybe even discover someone you would not have previously considered. In earlier episodes I've greatly enjoyed Tony Law's routines, having previously discounted him based on certain panel show appearances.

Maeve Higgins was my highlight from this week's show, though, with a fantastically understated routine of ideas for films in which she could play the starring role. It was a real disappointment that her segment was so short, and I hope that we see more of her in next week's final episode. Andy Zaltzman and Glenn Wool were funny as usual, although in entirely different ways. Stephen Carlin seemed to rely too heavily on material derived from Scottish stereotypes, and didn't bring anything new to the table that we have not seen in some form or another before.

Unfortunately I just didn't 'get' Sam Simmons. Certain members of the audience seemed to really enjoy his incoherent rambling and energetic delivery, so I can't fault his appearance; this show is meant to push the boundaries of TV stand up, acting as almost an antithesis to shows like Live at The Apollo (which it directly follows on Comedy Central).

The thing I like most about this show, though, is not the acts, nor is it the short interview sections. It's the realism. Although the show is heavily edited, you really get a feel that it is being thoroughly honest; it's in a proper comedy club (it stresses this at the beginning), the audience are up for it but not overly forgiving, and when jokes don't land they don't leave them on the editing room floor.

Shaun Spencer, Giggle Beats, 22nd April 2013

Gigglebox weekly #76: The Alternative Comedy Experience

This week Comedy Central, a network devoted to repeating American sitcom Friends until your eyes bleed, began a new stand-up show dedicated to alternative comics. Sort of.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 11th February 2013

The Alternative Comedy Experience made an excellent point about its subject - if only it were a little bit funnier.

When did 'alternative' become a dirty word in comedy circles? Early on in The Alternative Comedy Experience (Comedy Central), Stewart Lee noted that 'for an entire generation of people, alternative comedy is a pejorative term', which led to a cracking definition of what the term alternative comedy actually means: 'Every second joke is funny.'

The tongue was firmly in cheek but there's a serious mission behind Lee's latest comedy caper. Disgruntled by the relentless commodification of comedy - the stadium tours, the DVDs, the rent-a-gob TV panel shows - Lee is after giving a chance to comedians with an edge to them. Let's kick Michael Mcintyre and the pack of mainstream comics who dominate TV's comedy schedules into touch.

It's a noble cause but, of course, The Alternative Comedy Experience, which consists of stand-up highlights from an Edinburgh club, is tucked away late at night on a minority channel. No scaring of the horses there, but it's a start. Comedy, like rock music in 1976, has become safe and complacent, the one-time young guns suckered into safety by money. You can scarcely blame them, but I will anyway.

My only wish is that it had been a bit funnier. Issy Suttie, Peep Show's Dobbie, and token crazy German Henning Wehn, seemed like safe, first-episode choices when here was a chance to really roam around comedy's outer fringes. David O'Doherty was the pick of the unfamiliar faces, coming up with the gag of the night which started with the economic crisis and ended with badminton. But it wasn't nearly enough.

For the most part, Lee's off-stage chats with the comedians easily eclipsed anything that had gone down on stage, prompting the idea that Lee should have a stab at being an alternative chat show host. That would be one with no guests.

Keith Watson, Metro, 6th February 2013

It's been too long since we've seen deliciously downbeat comedian Stewart Lee on our TV screens so, while we wait for him to park his Comedy Vehicle again, it's good to find him at the wheel of this new stand-up series. Promising an edgier alternative to the stable of naughty-but-nice comedians favoured by the likes of Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, Lee invites largely unsung acts on stage at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh. Opening the series, Lee introduces Henning Wehn, self-proclaimed German Comedy Ambassador to Great Britain, and Isy Suttie, Peep Show's Dobby, who we last saw putting the wind up Beggsy in Great Night Out.

Metro, 5th February 2013

Radio Times review

The popular image of stand-up nowadays is of arena tours, massive-selling DVDs and appearances on TV panel shows. But Stewart Lee wants to wrest what is known as "alternative comedy" away from the pejorative backwater where it's been languishing. In truth, that means a series of lower-profile - though very funny - comedians on stage at the Stand in Edinburgh. Henning Wehn, Isy Suttie, Boothby Graffoe, David Kay, David O'Doherty and Glenn Wool are in the line-up - and the conversations with Lee are bite-sized gems.

David Crawford, Radio Times, 5th February 2013

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