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.
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
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