Dylan Jones: Whereas Rik Mayall snivelled around in an old raincoat, the American comics simply shouted at people

Talk of the town

Share
Related Topics

Recently I went to see Michael McIntyre (for the time being, as we learned in these pages last week, the world's funniest man) perform at the O2 in London in front of 20,000 people. He was greeted as though he were Bono, striding on stage like a rock star looking for his band. Not that he needed one. McIntyre is as comfortable on stage as he is in his kitchen.

But, oh, how comedy has changed. Twenty years ago I saw the late Sam Kinison perform in LA, and it was one of the most visceral experiences of my life. Kinison bombarded the audience with verbal salvos of such ferocity that we spent most of the evening looking forward to the end. Not that it wasn't funny – it was – but it was similar in a way to watching Sham 69 in a London club in 1977. The experience was exhilarating; you just worried about getting out alive.

Before becoming a comedian Kinison had been a revival-style preacher, and his stand-up routine was characterised by evangelical histrionics, punctuated by a trademark scream, often directed at the audience. Before his untimely death in 1992, Kinison was regarded as one of the leading lights of the American alt-comedy scene, along with another loudmouth, Andrew Dice Clay. An exponent of the "comedy of hate", Clay screamed abuse at anyone who came across his radar, and was accused of homophobia, sexism and misogyny, even being banned from MTV.

Kinison and Clay were examples of the US response to our own alternative comedy – but whereas we had the likes of Rik Mayall snivelling around in an old raincoat trying to appeal to students, the Americans simply shouted at people.

Even so, we were encouraged to celebrate them all for their originality, individuality and idiosyncracies. But since the Nineties, when alternative comedy became something of a lifestyle option, everything has changed again. These days, comedy once more revolves around the observation of the ordinary, the safety of the shared experience.

And as Michael McIntyre continues to prove, the shared experience is often the funniest experience of all.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor