Category Archives: In conversation events

HistComPod – Episode 2 ‘Alternative Cabaret Flyer’

In the second episode of ‘A History of Comedy in Several Objects’ (now available on iTunes), Olly and Elspeth discuss a promotional flyer for Alternative Cabaret which was deposited by Andy de la Tour (the flyer is within this folder of material). Alternative Cabaret were one of the key groups in the early alternative comedy scene. Olly and Elspeth talk about the formation of the group, find out what became of its key members and discover who designed the flyer.

Also featured in this episode is an exclusive audio clip of Olly interviewing Alexei Sayle at Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 (you can access the full interview in the Special Collections & Archives reading room) – don’t say we never treat you!

Flyer advertising the Alternative Cabaret collective

If you want to get involved you can contact us via standup@kent.ac.uk or tweet us at @histcompod.

You can search the online catalogue for more information about the holdings of  the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive at http://archive.kent.ac.uk.

Steve Bell and Arnold Brown in conversation

As part of the ‘Comedy on stage & page: satirical cartoons & stand-up’ conference on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th January, we are pleased that one of the main events (open to all, not just those registered for the conference) will be cartoonist Steve Bell and comedian Arnold Brown, in conversation. Steve Bell and Arnold Brown will be talking with Olly Double (Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre) and Nick Hiley (Head of the British Cartoon Archive) about their work, and the place of satire in cartooning and stand-up comedy.

This event will be held in the Templeman Library Lecture Theatre (Ground Floor, Templeman West) and is free and open to all. For more information about the conference, and how to register, visit our conference page on this blog.

 

Poster advertising Steve Bell &Arnold Brown in conversation

Poster advertising Steve Bell &Arnold Brown in conversation

Interesting facts about the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive

1. The British Stand-Up Comedy Archive contains 22 collections; we have been collecting material since 2013.

BSUCA collections on our Calm cataloguing system

BSUCA collections on our Calm cataloguing system

2. We have material dating from 1970 to the present day, documenting the rise of alternative comedy and stand-up comedy. We are keen to collect material from relevant areas of performance including alternative cabaret, performance poetry and working men’s club comedy.

3. We have collected a range of material in a variety of formats (including photographs, scripts, diaries, audiovisual recording, posters, contracts) and for a variety of purposes (promotion, academic research, for broadcast).

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4. Throughout 2015 we have been developing new workflows to ensure that the recordings in the archive held on legacy audiovisual formats (such as cassette tapes, MiniDisc and DAT) are digitised and accessible for researchers today and in the future.

5. The digitisation of both printed and audiovisual material means that we can provide samples of representative content from the archive on platforms such as Flickr and Soundcloud as well as on our blog.

6. We have worked to ensure a range of content from the comedy world has been collected and we have been keen to engage with comedy promoters and venues. Monika Bobinska donated a large collection of material from the Meccano Club (1985-1995) and Peter Grahame has given material from Downstairs at the Kings Head (established in 1981). We also have material from more recent clubs and promoters, including The Folkestone Comedy Club and What The Frock! Comedy.

Meccano Club Bookings Book.

Meccano Club Bookings Book. February-March 1995. Featuring acts including Tracy Brothers, Al Murray, Nick Wilty and Dylan Moran. (c) Monika Bobinska

7. One strength of the BSUCA collections is the number of unique, unedited interviews with comedians, recorded for purposes including academic research and publication (Oliver Double Collection), and radio broadcast (John Pidgeon Collection, Andrew Sherlock Radio Collection).

Interviews with comedians on DATs (Digital Audio Tapes) from the John Pidgeon Collection

Interviews with comedians on DATs (Digital Audio Tapes) from the John Pidgeon Collection

8. We’ve had some incredible events this year, with performers such as Mark Thomas, Attila the Stockbroker, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, and Phill Jupitus (at the University of Kent), and Jo Brand, Susan Calman, and Stephen K. Amos (at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe). These events were all recorded and can be accessed in our reading room at the Templeman Library, University of Kent.

Phill Jupitus talking about a Red Wedge Comedy leaflet which cartooned for (as Porky the Poet). Photo Matt Wilson

Phill Jupitus talking about a Red Wedge Comedy leaflet which cartooned for (as Porky the Poet) during an in-conversation event with Oliver Double in September 2015. Photo Matt Wilson

 

9. We are holding a joint conference with the British Cartoon Archive ‘Comedy On Stage and Page: satirical cartoons and stand-up‘ (14-15th January 2016), which will explore issues including the relationship between the audience and the comedian, writing shows, the comedy industry, censorship, and women in comedy, and also highlight the Stand-Up Comedy Archive collections.

10. Alongside the conference we will be hosting a joint exhibition with the British Cartoon Archive, providing access to material from the archive and explaining more about its establishment, development and collections in the new Templeman Library gallery area.

Attila the Stockbroker in-conversation

Errin Hussey, BSUCA Digitisation Assistant, writes:

Monday 19th October brought a different kind of event to those already held by the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, when punk poet legend Attila the Stockbroker returned to his former place of study to speak and perform to an enthusiastic audience.

Attila the Stockbroker in conversation with Oliver Double. Photo Elspeth Millar

Attila the Stockbroker in conversation with Oliver Double. Photo Elspeth Millar

The first half of the show was an ‘In Conversation with…’ style discussion with Dr Oliver Double. Attila the Stockbroker (John Baine) began the conversation by speaking fondly of his choice to attend the University of Kent, which was prompted by its left-wing activist reputation that was criticised in national right-wing press at the time. Attila continued on to describe his activities while at the University; his involvement with Rock Against Racism, organising gigs and running for Student Union President. The conversation soon turned to Attila’s first experiences of writing in his first punk band and how this led to becoming a solo poetry performer. In keeping with previous British Stand-Up Comedy Archive in-conversation events Oliver Double showed Attila images from the Archive of various shows he had played throughout his career. The discussion continued to explore Attila’s involvement in the ‘alternative cabaret’ scene, his contemporary poets and his current work before questions from the audience and a short interval.

Attila the Stockbroker performing at the Gulbenkian Cafe. Photo Elspeth Millar

Attila the Stockbroker performing at the Gulbenkian Cafe. Photo Elspeth Millar

The audience soon returned for a second half live set from Attila the Stockbroker which featured a combination of poems, songs and readings from his recently released autobiography ‘Arguments Yard’. He began with a poem called ’My Poetic Licence’ and continued with performances of ‘Asylum Seeking Daleks’, ‘Poppies Poem’ written about his late father, Never Too Late’ written about his stepfather and ‘Corbyn Supporters From Hell’. In addition Attila played a number of Mandola-accompanied songs ‘Comandante Joe’, a tribute to Joe Strummer, and ‘Prince Harry’s Knob’, inspired by his favourite novel ‘The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists’. It was a pleasure to have Attila the Stockbroker for this event and to have a collection of his materials in the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive (reference BSUCA/AS). The event was audio recorded and has been added to the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive event collection.

Phill Jupitus in conversation with Oliver Double

Matt Hoss, University of Kent Stand Up Comedy MA student, reviews our third British Stand-Up Comedy Archive in-conversation event, Phill Jupitus in conversation with Oliver Double, which took place on Tuesday 29 September 2015 at the Templeman Library Lecture Theatre:

At the very start of the term, the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive immediately welcomes new and returning students with an uproarious and academic conversation with Phill Jupitus. The evening takes place in the new Templeman Library Lecture Theatre, where it is hosted by the engaging Doctor of Comedy, Oliver Double. However Double doesn’t particularly prompt Jupitus, as he sets his own tempo, as he himself unravels his early works. The audience eagerly follows his momentum as he details his transition from performance poetry, under the act Porky The Poet, through to Stand-up Comedy, as Jupitus discusses his most recent Edinburgh Fringe Shows*.

Phill Jupitus at the University of Kent, 29 September 2015. Photo Matt Wilson

Phill Jupitus at the University of Kent, 29 September 2015. Photo Matt Wilson

Throughout the evening, Jupitus shares a mixture of thoughts and anecdotes from his encounters with other comedians and reflects on his vast and determined progression of how he turned into a full-time comedian. Jupitus gives plenty of insider tips to comedy, with mentions to improv groups and other ventured aspects of comedy. In particular Jupitus discussed how he developed his uniquely brilliant show, a comedic retelling of Star Wars: Episode 4 called Jedi, Steady, Go which he built the material from being the compere at the Comedy Store.

Jupitus’ passion for his politics is shown throughout the conversation. This begins tentatively with his humble beginnings working alongside Billy Bragg and Red Wedge, which sparked a somewhat raging commentary about the state of current affairs. But towards the end, when several audience members ask questions about politics in regards to comedy, Jupitus releases a whirlwind of left-wing notions and spitefully shouts about the lack of morality in current politics and television. He passionately yet angrily declares: “Education should be Free!” and to “LEARN!” and “SHARE!” creating a rapturous and unifying celebration shared by the audience.

Phill Jupitus talking about a Red Wedge Comedy leaflet which he cartooned for (as Porky the Poet). Photo Matt Wilson

Phill Jupitus talking about a Red Wedge Comedy leaflet which he cartooned for (as Porky the Poet). Photo Matt Wilson

Jupitus receives countless laughs and constant bursts of applause, leaving the audience spellbound with his comedic charm and his inspirational rhetoric. The Stand-Up Archive has another fantastic addition to its star-studded collection.

*Phill Jupitus: Sketch Comic, Impossible, and Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in Apologist Now!

British Stand-Up Comedy Archive autumn events

The ‘Talking Comedy’ events at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (hosted with Lakin McCarthy) are happening NOW, but we’re also excited to announce some fantastic events coming up at the University of Kent over the next few months.  First up, we will have Phill Jupitus in conversation with Oliver Double on Tuesday 29 September at 7:30pm.  The event is free, so just turn up!

'Phill Jupitus in conversation with Olly Double' poster

Following that we’re excited to have punk poet legend and University of Kent alumnus Attila the Stockbroker at the Gulbenkian Café on Monday 19 October in-conversation with Oliver Double. This will be followed by Attila performing poems and songs, plus readings from his new autobiography ‘Arguments Yard’. Tickets can be found on the gulb’s website.

 

'Attila the Stockbroker in conversation with Olly Double' poster

Spotlight on: Attila the Stockbroker Archive

I’m very pleased to announce that we have a new collection within the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive from Attila the Stockbroker. Attila is a performance poet, punk poet and musician (and also a University of Kent alumnus).

The Attila the Stockbroker Archive comprises material created and collected by Attila, including his work (such as first drafts of poems, and notebooks), press coverage, publicity and promotional material for performance poetry and music gigs (flyers and posters) including for Glastonwick and Barnstormer events, fanzines and zines he collected and contributed to, as well as his manifesto for election as Student President whilst at the University of Kent in the 1970s!

Poster for Attila the Stockbroker's performance at The Playhouse, Harlow, in May 1981. Courtesy Attila the Stockbroker.

Poster for Attila the Stockbroker’s performance at The Playhouse, Harlow, in May 1981. Courtesy Attila the Stockbroker.

Our main collecting focus is on alternative and stand-up comedy but we are really interested in the context surrounding the alternative comedy scene, including the alternative cabaret circuit. We want to ensure that we document these overlapping aspects and so we’re keen to represent the alternative cabaret circuit and those performing there; as other material in our collections show, these include performance and ranting poets (as well as magicians, circus acts and impressionists!)

I’m also pleased to announce that Attila will be doing an ‘in-conversation’ event with Olly Double followed by a performance of his work, in the Gulbenkian café on Monday 19 October – tickets available soon!

Poster for Barnstormer events at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, including comedian Mark Steel, and poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, with Attila the Stockbroker's band 'Barnstormer', 1995. Courtesy Attila the Stockbroker.

Poster for Barnstormer events at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, including comedian Mark Steel, and poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, with Attila the Stockbroker’s band ‘Barnstormer’, 1995. Courtesy Attila the Stockbroker.

Stewart Lee in conversation with Oliver Double

Matt Hoss, third year University of Kent Drama and Classics student, reviews our second British Stand-Up Comedy Archive in conversation event, Stewart Lee in conversation with Oliver Double, which took place on Wednesday 10 June 2015 at the Gulbenkian Cinema for University of Kent staff and students:

The second of the ‘in conversation’ events features the 41st Best Stand Up Ever, Stewart Lee, where he assesses his comedic career on behalf of the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive. Dr Oliver Double hosts the discussion, taking place in The Gulbenkian Cinema, with a reflective demeanour supported by his articulate questions.

Stewart Lee in conversation with Oliver Double, Gulbenkian Cinema, 10 June 2015. Image © University of Kent / Matt Wilson

Stewart Lee in conversation with Oliver Double, Gulbenkian Cinema, 10 June 2015. Image © University of Kent / Matt Wilson

The conversation started by analysing Lee’s performance on the previous day at The Marlowe Theatre, looking at his abrasive techniques and poignant routines which he is mastering for the fourth season of his BBC Two series Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.

Lee discusses a lot about himself and his onstage “character”.   The viscerally volatile persona onstage is significantly differently to the humbly modest man offstage, which creates an impressive and fascinating duality.

The dialogue gradually shifted to talk about Alternative Comedy as a whole, focusing on the gig diary of Monika Bobinska who ran The Meccano Club in the late eighties. Lee gives insight into the background workings of his early years by displaying the hardships of trying to get gigs.

The foundation of the talk is rooted with hilarious anecdotes and concludes with questions asked by the audience.  Lee earnestly demonstrates why he is the most talented and innovative performer in Britain. 

Stewart Lee in conversation with Oliver Double, Gulbenkian Cinema, 10 June 2015. Image © University of Kent / Matt Wilson

Stewart Lee in conversation with Oliver Double, Gulbenkian Cinema, 10 June 2015. Image © University of Kent / Matt Wilson

The event was audio recorded and has been added to the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive collections (reference: BSUCA/Events/SL2015).

British Stand-Up Comedy Archive at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015

We’re really pleased to announce that the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive will be at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015.  Organised by Lakin McCarthy, Oliver Double will be hosting a number of in-conversation events (‘Talking Comedy’) with some fantastic comedians: Mark Thomas, Stephen K. Amos, Susan Calman, Jo Brand, Alexei Sayle and Nina Conti. The events are taking place at the Assembly Rooms, and tickets are bookable now from the Assembly Rooms website! Recordings of these interviews will be made for deposit in the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive.

British Stand-Up Comedy and Lakin McCarthy 'Talking Comedy' events, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015

British Stand-Up Comedy and Lakin McCarthy ‘Talking Comedy’ events, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015