Minor British Institutions: Alternative comedy
Saturday 07 August 2010
The thing about alternative comedy is that it isn't very alternative any more. Like "New" Labour, time has rendered the adjective redundant, and the nation awaits the alternative to alternative comedy. Maybe comics will go back to wearing dinner suits with frilly shirts and cracking mother-in-law gags.
The origins are obscure, its first appearance variously placed in Devon, London's Comedy Store or in any student bar somewhere around 1980. The timing is telling, as it was a reaction to the election of Mrs Thatcher and her uniquely unfunny brand of politics as much as impatience with Bernard Manning.
A relaxation in telly rules about the F-word also helped. Alexei Sayle stands out as the most original of the new wave, but then again, maybe The Young Ones and Friday Night Live were just a ruder, swearier evolution of Spike Milligan, Python and That Was the Week That Was.
But, whatever else, alternative comedy killed racist jokes, and for that we should be truly grateful.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 2 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 3 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 4 World Cup 2014: Robin van Persie appears to give his bronze medal to eccentric Netherlands fan moments after being handed it by Sepp Blatter
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Death in the Valley of the Dolls: Heroin overdose turns the spotlight on prostitution boom in California's tech industry
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Woman, 61, jailed for seven years after drink-drive death of cyclist
Gaza-Israel conflict: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators take to streets of London, Paris and New York in wave of protests
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
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