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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 4:57 pm 
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James 2,

I myself have not been on any comedy courses, some folk will probably say I should have, but I am talking from a point of view of having seen products of comedy courses who I find dreadfully uninspiring and unamusing.

I can't stand the rigidness of their set and delivery which often sees these acts struggle outwith a friendly environment.

As I said earlier, I know of some comedians who have been on courses and have gone on to bigger, better and more fantastic things but they already had natural talent and were destined for good things anyway. The course, and these acts will testify themselves, taught them very little other than to ignore what they were being taught.

These courses are giving the people on them a false start in comedy and not allowing them to be themselves preferring instead to let them perform dot to dot comedy.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2003 1:34 am 
Steve, Al Murray was absolutely SHIT when he was doing Spitfire impersonations - but he's funny now as Pub Landlord (and as member of Bill Bailey's "Pub Band" where it all came from.)
You are right nowdays there is only good comedy and bad - like there is posting your whole message in a 'lump' of text so nobody can really be inclined to read it or using paragraphs and spacing. I saw Ben Elton play the same venue on his way up (funny) and when he became crap (I left in the interval). Comedy is a personal and passionate thing (as you can tell from these forums) but the gulf between a Northern Working Mens Club "comic" (Bernard Cunting Manning, Davidson, Wilson) and an Alternative Comic (Sean Lock, Mark Thomas, Noel James, Tim Vine, Arnold Brown, Sadowitz, et al) is stil fucking huge, believe me!
Essential the "alternative" comics make people laugh and challenge preconceptions, the rest still ply the same tedious, monotonous, sterotype hack.
"Take my wife ... I'm not married ... Trouble I had getting here ... none" The lovely Lee Evans.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2003 10:52 am 
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scott_agnew wrote:
(snip) I know of some comedians who have been on courses and have gone on to bigger, better and more fantastic things but they already had natural talent and were destined for good things anyway. The course, and these acts will testify themselves, taught them very little other than to ignore what they were being taught.
(snip)

Don't get that at all. But then I subscribe to the view that stand-up comedy can be taught as a skill - like juggling if you will, obv some people will find it easier than others, but people tend to get better with practice (and guidance).

As regards to people with 'natural talent' - imo, there's nothing natural about stand-up comedy and as such - it's a learnt skill. It's just that some people learn it quicker than others. (learning is natural)

To paraphrase McKee (because, essentially, I am a big ponce):
Anxious inexperienced comics obey rules
Rebellious unschooled comics break rules
An artist masters the form

*twirls moustache, polishes paperweight*


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2003 12:44 pm 
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When I say natural talent I mean people who are naturally funny, not someone who is being taught how to be or sound funny as it seems some comedy course students are being shown.

Or not as the case seems to be

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 2:21 am 
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Paulie Paul N - who is the northern comic you refer to as Wilson. I hope it's not me! Although, I doubt that it is as 1) I'm not very famous and 2) I'm nothing like Bernard Manning.
I am northern though, and a bit of fat bastard.
Tell us your real name anyway.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 2:39 am 
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Kevin "Bloody" Wilson I suspect.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:06 pm 
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I hate to come across as some kind of thread archaeologist but this thread caught my eye.

Alternative comedy is, for all intents and purposes, dead and was followed by post-alternative comedy. Like punk, all of alt-com's more marketable aspects were recuperated and a new form was offered in its place.

Here's what Greil Marcus says about New Wave.

[It] was a code word not for punk without shock but for punk without meaning. Punk was not a musical genre; it was a moment in time that took shape as a language anticipating its own destruction, and thus sometimes seeking it.
(1989: 82)

Now I'm not saying that today's comedy is without shock - heaven forfend! However, it is clear that whenever anything 'dangerous' appears, there follows a tabloid moral panic, which is then followed by the inevitable recuperation by the industry's marketing men.

Nelson David was right to point out that there seems to be a lack of philosophical and political engagement among today's comedians. Shock is not a substitute for thoughtful analysis nor does shock for its own sake necessarily produce anything worthwhile. In fact, it is more likely to alienate.

Now there are some people who would label the alternative comedians as being obsessed with 'political correctness'. This is a myth: the label of PC was used by the Right as a pejorative and its use as a discursive weapon helped to pave the way for alt-com's recuperation. There was no 'golden age' of alternative comedy and I think if anyone reads William Cook's The Comedy Store, they will soon realise that it wasn't all about politics and being 'right on' or being ideologically sound (as the phrase used to go), it was about resisting what had gone before it. Dada did it, the Surrealists did it and even the Italian Futurists did it. Punk certainly did it. In fact punk is one of the parents of alt-com and it shared a lot of the same things.

So where is the next big thing? Or have we all bought into the idea that 'resistance is futile'?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:29 pm 
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abitofacomedianarewe wrote:
One of the main reasons I want to try out something real new, is that there are just so much observations that someone can make, and if everyone (well the majority of acts in my local club) is using the same style, we appear to be going down the road of acts using the same jokes. Example, I recently did a gig where a Scottish act called Danny Bhoy was on the bill. I had seen this man once before, so was not too familiar with his work, and after his set was over I had to cross off about 2 minutes from my act, because we dealt with the same observation in a very similar way. My point is, that if our styles were different, we could have both dealt with the same topic, and earned laughs from the punters both times. Either that or do what one of the other acts suggested, move to a new scene where you wont be on the same bill as the guy you "copied". ;)


Your best material is hard to rip off because it comes from a unique comedy viewpoint. If other random acts have such a significant amount of similar material (without nicking it) throw it away, its probably obvious.

I live in Brighton. Ive heard a hundred variations of the brighton ... but I'm not gay opening...weak


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 Post subject: My Theory
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:24 pm 
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Hello all,

First off - I've really enjoyed this thread. it's lovely to read good points about something I'm personally invested in.

This is particularly of interest to me as I run, and perform at a night called The Ideas Factory which was founded as a place to air new material about fresh ideas. We are on show 13 and have sold out the last 5 shows. I gig about three times a week. I mention this only to validate myself to you as more then a man who postulates increasingly intricate theories on his sofa to distract himself from the fact he hasn't moved from it.

The biggest divide I feel that exists in comedy now is one that I experience more emotionally then rationally, so please accept my apology for the following poor explanation.

The comics I see as the new wave, or part of New Alternative Comedy hold two properties in common. These properties are seen in other comics, but its only when they coexist that I personally brand a comic part of the New Wave.

Firstly, as comics, they are investing themselves honestly into their material. Bits become less anecdotal or gag orientated and hold an element of self. This is a complicated point as the material by no means has to be honest, but has to provide a depth beyond the joke itself. Think of a Mitch Hedberg classic that made you think, laugh, and feel close to the man.

I think the other key to what defines this new breed of post alternative comedian is improvisation. A lot of the new comics I admire will use their material as jump off points to improvise. This in its self is nothing new, but combined with this honesty defines the new wave.

Now again I apolgise for my poor explanation. I thought it better to try and give my thoughts on the matter then deem it too difficult to approach.

An idea we are working on at The Ideas Factory is to create a night called 'The Psychology Of Comedy' in this night we will have a panel and issue audience members question marks. Willing comedians will be asked to perform, but pause to answer questions on their motivation for the material (after enough question marks are raised). Think a psychological gong show. This of course is not everyone's cup of tea, but if conducted well, and made supportive and light hearted I hope will help us understand what defines this new wave I feel is emerging.

if you think this is all nonsense fair enough to you, you may have a point. But my gut suggests otherwise. Or maybe it was just that sandwich.

High concepts are often forged over bread.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:17 pm 
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I am a new comic, very new in fact. I did my first gig only three short months ago. I've since performed pretty much weekly in the North at a lowly open slot level. So perhaps my opinion isn't worth much salt but...

I can honestly say that even among acts at my own level, there are very few comedians whose material I would say was interchangeable with another's. Some new comics ARE terrible I grant you, but as has already been said they do get better.

It's true that you do see some comedians who seem to have that 'typified TV comedian voice and delivery', but by no means is that limited to people who have come out of comedy courses.

I've seen a couple of people who take that approach and they've totally pulled it off, because it's their natural style.

The problem (as aforementioned) lies in when the style is emulated by a comedian who should be doing something else entirely. If you don't feel comfortable in your own skin up there you're not being quite honest enough.

The way that I see it is that there are no natural comedians as such. People in general are funny enough to do it, and the key points are in getting the stage presence right for your own personality and tone, and of course the writing. There are certain aspects of personality that can really help with being funny on stage but some of the funniest guys I know from the local pubs, die in comedy clubs every night because they just can't write gags.

That's my penny's-worth anyway!
SDH


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:58 am 
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Interesting points. I do think that 'being a stand-up comedian' now seems to mean that you have to follow some unwritten, standardised route and no one seems to question this.

Having said that - one person on stage, to some degree you are limited in what you can do, yes you can use props, or do more physical comedy, but ulimately it is just you and a microphone.

If you look at fashion, art, music, there are movements and changes, and I'm sure stand up comedy will also change - I for one am curious to see what it will change into, it is probably inevitable, but hard to predict what style will be seen as breaking the mainstream mould.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:26 pm 
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It is fascinating to read a thread that was begun in 2003 and to feel that, as far as I can see, not a lot has changed since then. Has it? The traditional observational laddish stand-up comics that the writer was criticising 8 years ago are now the staple of Saturday night TV. In 2003 John Bishop wasn't even doing stand up, and Kevin Bridges wasn't out of short trousers.

If we cast our minds back to the birth of modern stand up as we know it, can we imagine so little creative or structural change having happened over an 8 year period in the 70s or the 80s? Or even the 90s?

Compare 1973 to 1981 you've gone from The Comedians on ITV and the Les Dawson Show to Not The Nine O'Clock News and the first alternative club The Comic Strip.

From 1983 to 1991 you've gone from Time Out listing half a dozen shows a week as "Alternative Cabaret" to Friday Night Live, a proper comedy circuit, & Frank Skinner winning the Perrier.

From 1993 to 2001 you've gone from Edinburgh being a Fringe festival to being seen as a comedy showcase for TV, every Perrier winner has their own TV series, Jongleurs is listed on the stock exchange, and Avalon & Off The Kerb are multi-million pound TV production companies.

2003-2011 see above. Apart from a slight contraction in the big businesses, what's different?

Kev F

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:31 am 
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John Bishop started in the late 1990s he'd done his 10 years before he suddenly made the leap to the big leagues.

In the last 7 years comedy has expanded massively with the explosion in digital television and use of the internet more and more people are now able to find out how to go about giving stand-up a go and there's been an explosion of new act nights as a result, the number of comedians who can sustain an arena tour has increased and comedy has gone from a niche BBC 2 and Channel 4 preserve to a pervasive and ubiquitous model for making relatively cheap TV with a massive rate of return.

A schism is opening in the industry too between the more mainstream and the more artsy acts, the rise of the hipster comedian, the geeks and freaks all separating away from the more mainstream comics.

Television will always be higher cost and have higher risks and have to appeal to a wide audience so they will always play it safe. Saturday Live was broadcast in a different era where there was only 4 channels to choose from and the ratings for it were massive by comparison with today but tiny for the time and this was back when Channel 4 didn't have to make it's revenue from advertising, when it got it's funding from ITV and so more emphasis was put on fulfilling it's remit than in bringing in big audiences.

In the mid 90's that changed and you see following that endless imported US sitcoms and less risks on home grown stuff, they now televise pilots in the Comedy Lab strand whereas in the 90's they'd give series a chance, packet of 3 and packing them in wouldn't get made now, nor would My Dead Dad or any of those early 90's attempts. If Graham Linehan had to do a comedy lab Pilot of Paris, then Father Ted would never have been made.

There are acts out there who are different who break the mould and who talk about stuff that's not been talked about before in a way that's never been done before, and some of them can soar and some of them bomb and some alternate between the two, the thing is promoters are like anyone else in business, they're risk averse, but they also want to be doing what everyone else is doing, and they want to be slightly ahead of the curve. The problem is that they often aren't and aren't willing to take risks on an act that might have a belting gig that'll be impossible for anyone to follow or might piss off their audience.

But as this is happening more and more there's more and more acts who are finding that there is an audience out there for the sort of stuff that they do and as a result there's a circuit building up around that for gigs such as The Festival of the Spoken Nerd etc.

Comedy's moved on a hell of a lot in the last 8 years, it's almost changed beyond recognition from when I started 7 years ago, and it had changed massively in the 2 years preceeding that.

My flatmate has been a gigging professional comic for 9 years, he started stand-up 10 years ago in the North and the pattern was you did an open spot on a professional bill if you did well they booked you back for a paid spot if you didn't then you would get an open spot again in a year or so, every gig you did there was a paid headliner and paid MC and support, there were no open mic nights or at least very few of them and the gap between the first gig and getting paid work was very short.

When John Bishop started out he did Red Raw at the Frog and Bucket for his first gig, did well at that and got a paid weekend there out of it. These days even if you're very very good right off the bat you've got Beat the Frog, if you win that then you can get booked in in a few months time to do an opening 8 at beat the frog, then if you do well at that a couple of times you get a paid 10 on a Thursday and you need to prove that you're good at that at least 4 times (at one chance every 6 months) before you'll get anywhere near a weekend there.

So in the gap between 2002 and 2005 the industry changed enough that the lead in time between doing an open spot and getting to the point where you could make a living increased massively and the circuit separated out into the pro circuit and the open mic circuit.

The reason that it seems things haven't moved on much in 10 years is that there's a lot of circuit acts who only do certain of the bigger clubs and whose acts haven't changed one word in that time, they get booked because they can do the job, in this instance making a group of people on a stag/hen/birthday/work's do night out laugh for 20 minutes and facilitate the sale of alcohol and food. The onus is on making money rather than progressing the art and craft of comedy, and in order for most comics to make enough to live off they need to be doing those gigs and once you're in you don't want to lose your place so you also tend to become more risk averse.

anyway I've waffled enough.

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 Post subject: GooD!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:20 pm 
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Adam Howe wrote:

From what I have heard people are loyal to clubs rather than comedians.

Something positive though, they were early 20's and were big fans of live comedy.

I don't think I have made any valid points.



You've made a point I liked. People being loyal to a club. GOOD! I've been slowly building up my club in Ewell for just under a year. The smallest bit of encouragement to keep going when acts pull out last second and worrying if punters will turn up. Which they do ... 3sec before the door open. ALL HELPS.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:51 pm 
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I stopped doing comedy 8 years ago as my act had become boring to me. In order to be a success most frequently, more and more I relied upon jokes that always got a laugh rather than jokes which I personally found funny. Now that I have had some headspace, I definitely would re-engage on a more meaningful line of comedy. Even if people disagree or don't find it funny, some people probably will and at least my soul would not feel sullied and cheapened by the process.

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