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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2003 5:46 pm 
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Mainstream and Alternative are labels that are now out of date but there are no labels to replace them so they continue to be used even though they are not literal descriptions of the genres they are applied to.

The major difference between the two (as I see it) is the idea of owning your own material. The mainstrean comics of old might have been telling racist and sexist jokes but then they lived in a racist and sexist society so I don't think that's all too surprising. And some of the great original comic thinkers (Spike Milligan, Monty Python and others) have been responsible for comedy that in today's world would be considered racist/sexist/homophobic.

But comedy (stand-up in particular) had begun to stagnate with comics sitting in dressing rooms sharing out the jokes before the start of a show. Okay; you do the 'Is your dog mad?' gag and I'll do the 'Tree fellers'.

The introduction of alternative comedy saw a return to people writing their own material and as such taking possession of it. Not an innovation, but a return. Les Dawson had been doing it for years and many more before him.

As for inventing new forms of comedy. I think it is happening, it's always been happening and it will continue to happen. In subtle ways. But you probably won't find it happening in a pub function room with a microphone and 4 sets of 20 minutes.
But then you might as well be complaining that every time you go to the cinema all the films are just projected on to the screen and no one ever thinks of doing something differently

There are plenty of innovative stand-ups writing and performing on the circuit but if you want to find innovation in the form I'm not sure why you expect to find it in rooms set up for stand-up.

The stand-up circuit isn't the be all and end all of comedy in the UK. It might be the most structured place to begin performing because the contacts exist and the time and space will be given to those who seek it, but if you look beyond the narrow confines of the circuit you'll find people creating comedy in many different ways. Some of them are people who also do stand up (Howard Read, The Boosh, The Dinks) others are people who just do their own thing (Brand X, Peepolykus, Ben Moor, Ken Campbell).


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2003 5:57 pm 
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Funny is funny, no matter what label you put on it and in such a stressed world, it's great to go out at the weekend and laugh.

I don't think there'll ever be a saturation of quality acts and quality clubs.

There will however be a saturation of open mic clubs if too many open in to small an area.

That's not meant disrespectfully,I know people have to get experience.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 2:42 am 
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bitofacomedian, I would like to know how you got into stand up. Because I think I understand where you are coming from when you're talking about 'alternative comedy' all sounding the same.

At the moment I feel there is a proliferation of acts on the circuit who go on stage and deliver their set the way they think a stand up comedian talks. Almost as if there's only one voice or tone that is considered funny by an audience or the only acceptable way for a joke to be delivered.

I believe the reason for this saturation of 'alternative comedy voice' type acts is because of the deluge of comedy courses there seems to be at the moment.

Too many folk, stuck in dull jobs and looking for something they can bolt on to their personality to make them interesting to their workmates, picking up the paper seeing an advert and thinking "oh I fancy that. Learn comedy in only six weeks. That'll do me."

These folks then go along to said courses without ever having had the thought that they were funny or destined for the stage and are coached on how to write sets and perform them. Then they all end up sounding the bloody same because that's how they were taught to deliver and perform their material they don't know how to do any differently.

There are not enough people finding their way into comedy because it's a calling for them or they've stumbled upon it for some obscure reason and are natural wits, funny people or storytellers. Hence we get lots of nice little Mondeo men, with Mondeo men jokes, sensibilities and a sense of humour and the one Mondeo man voice.

I believe if you can find your own voice, a voice that is truly yours and translate it to the stage, it automatically marks you out as different and pushes you one level up from simply being an 'alternative comedian.'

*Note to folk who know me. I don't think I have fully found my true voice for the stage, but might be getting closer, simply referring to those who I have seen find theirs rather than the monotone 'comedy voice' of comedy courses.

Having said that I know a number of folk from comedy courses who have become very very good. But they have tended to have found their own voice and style far away from the comedy classroom.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 7:54 am 
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I completely agree with Dave's points. The innovation that you speak of is there but it generally is not in the back room of a pub doing an open mike night or any larger club for that matter. If you want to see some new approaches to the norm then you need to check out people like Julian Fox who has done two great shows (Rebranding Mr God and Goodbye Seattle Coffee Company) that are somewhere between performance art and comedy and are individual and very funny. The first I think got the alternative Perrier award from Time Out.
Noble and Silver were worth checking out when they were performing in comedy venues and theatre groups like Shunt are also doing work that is crossing over between many mediums. Check out Dance Bear Dance in the old railway arch in Bethnal Green.
There's plenty of people doing new stuff it's just a bit more difficult to find as it ain't obviously classed as standup. Al,ot of punters are getting increasingly bored of the Jongleurs scenario and you meet plenty of people that don't bother anymore and instead want to see full shows that are clearly about something. Comedy courses and the belief that you need to do a set type of comedy to succeed are all making standup comedy itself less interesting. There's also so many open mike nights these days that punters get frustrated from seeing less than good comedy shows and it puts them off. So if you want to be experimental and different the key is having the guts to do it and maybe doing it outside of the standup machine.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 9:07 am 
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scott_agnew wrote:
At the moment I feel there is a proliferation of acts on the circuit who go on stage and deliver their set the way they think a stand up comedian talks. Almost as if there's only one voice or tone that is considered funny by an audience or the only acceptable way for a joke to be delivered.

I believe the reason for this saturation of 'alternative comedy voice' type acts is because of the deluge of comedy courses there seems to be at the moment.
(snip)
These folks then go along to said courses without ever having had the thought that they were funny or destined for the stage and are coached on how to write sets and perform them. Then they all end up sounding the bloody same because that's how they were taught to deliver and perform their material they don't know how to do any differently.

I don't necessarily think that comedy courses has anything to do with that, I think just by watching a lot of new acts people who start out tend to imitate each other, and that's where the problem lies. Obv I can only speak for the course I've been involved with, but we put a greater emphasis on finding your own voice than specific joke formulae or set structures - with the disclaimer that it can take years or 100s of gigs :)

I think with most new acts, the 90% who aren't gifted comic geni or completely fucking mental, initially they're just looking to do successful gigs and get laughs, and in many cases this means imitating things they've seen work elsewhere - not word for word material nicking, but more of a subconscious thing. This goes with time and experience with most people - except for the nutters.

I don't think there's any real case for complaining 'why are most new acts shit?' it's because they're new - they'lll get better.

I suppose in that there London the courses are different because they're mostly people who've already started gigging, albeit tentatively. The course at the MAC in Burminum will have one or two people on it who actually want to get into stand-up, the rest will be just people who are interested in comedy and want to try something a bit different. Or they're nutters.

Being different, however, is not enough. To misspell James Brown, it's got to be funny.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 9:34 am 
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James2 wrote:
Lloyd Stephens wrote:
jeff Green has become mainstream and HACK (girlfriend, women etc)

if you think someone is a hack for broaching the subjects of girlfriends and women, you are very sorely mistaken

it's not the subjects, it's what you do with them

James2 Jeff green was very good when I saw him but did slip in a gag about women (his girlfriend in particular) took a long time to get ready to go out. That is hack but surrounded by non hack stuff so it was OK. I was pointing out how easy it is to slip between the two.

Yes mainstream and alternative is an out of date phrase but one we can all understand and I used it in reply to the original post.

In the end, funny is funny. Its down to how you as a performer feel happiest and what you want to do. I want to try new things and thats fine as long as I appreciate I might be a bit shit.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 3:35 pm 
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James2

I know obviously everyone is kind of shit when they start stand-up, I'm not looking for open-spots or new acts to appear on the scene and appear like polished acts.

But what I have found from new acts who are products of comedy courses they tend to have a rigid script, with a rigid formula and a rigid delivery style which never errs regardless of the reception it gets.

It's a bit like listneing to the orchestra on the Titanic.

I feel some people who have been on some of these courses lack the ability to react to their audience and it is almost as if they are being coached on how to do stand-up on tv rather than on stage.

I think if the comedy courses were more focussed on writing, and finding their voice, speaking the way the individuals speak themselves and reflecting their true personality and sense of humour then perhaps the graduates of these courses would be better acts.

But perhaps some of the people who are attracted to these courses are the wrong kind of people, and the only way tutors can make them 'funny' is to train them like performing animals who perform what they know without question and without passion or personality.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 4:18 pm 
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No matter what you are trained in, some of the attitude/style of the trainer will inevitably rub off on their trainees - by how much, depends on the the trainer's personality and motivation as much as each trainee's.

The idea of 'finding your voice' has hit me after only a handful of open spots, as, though not a product of a training course, I have fallen into the trap of doing what others expect of me - so it can happen anyway.

I suppose at the outset, the biggest hurdle is getting up there and making people laugh, so following some formula is a better setup for success at first. But I find it leaves me cold and unsatisfied each time I ignore what my gut's telling me and go with what my head has already decided might work - feels like I'm a musician in Titanic's orchestra.

As for a search for a new comedy style, I really do not think that can be manufactured. It has to evolve organically, not from one or more individual's conscious decision to be different, but from their individuality - if they are brave enough to expose it to the world.

There seems to be a perception with comedy that things happen auddenly, that the appearance of a new style or even a successful new act, is like a bolt of lightening. But just like an individual's standup style there are no shortcuts, it takes stage time to develop, so new styles of comedy will begin to emerge if there's enough room in amongst all the usual mainstream dribble to let it incubate.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 4:33 pm 
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scott_agnew wrote:
But what I have found from new acts who are products of comedy courses they tend to have a rigid script, with a rigid formula and a rigid delivery style which never errs regardless of the reception it gets.


so what? when you learn music at school, they teach you a set of rules for a kind of simple western harmony style that is boring and oversimplified, but effective. doesnt mean they expect you to stick to that style for the rest of your life.

learn as much as you can from other people and in time your own style will develop.

learning anything in a class is clearly no substitute for actual experience, but that doesnt mean it cant be of help.

Rich

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 6:19 pm 
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Scott, to answer your question I got into comedy gradually. When I was about 13, 14 I was always the top of the class and whatever, and I found myself getting bored of it, and I used to slip funny answers into tests, forgoing the right answer if i could think of something funny to say. I used to do debating in school too, and despite the fact that my team always lost, I usually had the audience in stiches. So I decided to take it one step further, and enter as a stand-up comedian into the school Christmas concert on front of 600 students, all the material stolen from other acts I might add. I didn't get a warm reception, actually got a few boos, but I had a few people in stiches. So despite the years worth of slagging I entered it again the next year, and got an even worse reception.
So when I finished school, and moved up to college in Dublin, I joined the comedy soceity and did a couple of open spots supporting established acts (like I supported Adam Hills on only my secong gig for them), and I got a reasonable reception (I was doing my own material at this stage). After that I started doing open spots for a club in Dublin called the International, and I became a regular there over the next couple of years, and that brings me up to today. So there's my life story.
By the way, I'm really enjoying everyone's comments, now if I could only get down to writing some stuff. gave myself the target of 5 minutes worth of new stuff by my next gig on thursday, so far I've gotten two one-liners.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 6:47 pm 
Jeff Green is not hack, unless hack means bloody funny. He's also a very nice bloke.

So there.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 1:40 am 
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But you can be hack and bloody funny and a very nice bloke. I know several.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 9:45 am 
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scott_agnew wrote:
I think if the comedy courses were more focussed on writing, and finding their voice, speaking the way the individuals speak themselves and reflecting their true personality and sense of humour then perhaps the graduates of these courses would be better acts.

Obv I can only speak for the course that I'm involved with, but this is what we do - and we run the risk of the new acts absolutely bombing, luckily only 1 or 2 out of 10 will, by doing so.

What course experiences have you had?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 9:49 am 
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Keeping my cash in a high interest bank account is the best thing I have taken away from comedy courses.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 1:56 pm 
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Are poo jokes still alternative? I'll have to see if I can ease that one out...

What about masturbation gags? Or have people been over-doing it?

How about jokes about scampi fries? No, they're not my taste.

What about necrophiliac blowjob material? Um, well, I tried it once, but didn't go down well.

This is just cheap puns, isn't it?

Or is it?

Poo!

:laugh:

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