Category Archives: Monika Bobinska Collection

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).

Spotlight on: The Monika Bobinska Collection

Elspeth Millar writes:

I’m really excited to announce that we have a new collection deposited within the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, The Monika Bobinska Collection, which was deposited in April by Monika Bobinska.

The majority of the collection contains records of, and documents relating to, the Meccano Club, a comedy club which was established in 1985 by James Miller (stage name James Macabre), Mark Bobinski and Lucinda Denning, initially at the Camden Head, Angel, and later at The Market Tavern, Islington. Monika Bobinska ran the club from 1986 (initially with James and later on her own) until 1995.  The  records of the Meccano Club include administrative records (such as bookings books, payment receipts, contact books, contracts), promotion and publicity (flyers, posters, event listings), press cuttings, photographs, and audio-visual recordings (of live events, and broadcast programmes in which the Meccano featured). There is also material from the exhibition staged at the Canal Gallery in February and March 2015 ‘ALT CAB or Where Did It Go Wrong?‘, including promotion and material collated for the exhibition.

The Monika Bobinska Collection also includes material collected by Monika relating to the comedy circuit in the 1980s and 1990s, although not specifically related to the Meccano Club. This material includes a series of magazine publications including numerous Time Out issues, press cuttings relating to Comedy in London and specifically in the Islington area, leaflets for comedy festivals, badges and books regarding the A-Z of comedy and women in comedy, her private collection of the Joan Collins Fan Club material and also records for the ‘Cave of Harmony’, a series of stand-up comedy nights for women comedians. Monika has also deposited photographs of live performances at the Meccano Club and of professional head-shot portraits of comedian’s such as Eddie Izzard, Phil Jupitus, Matt Lucas & Mark Thomas.

The collection is important as, although it documents part of the early careers of some well-known comedians today (such as Harry Hill, Jo Brand), it also demonstrates how a comedy club, in the early days of ‘alternative comedy/cabaret’ conducted business and negotiated with venues and comedians.

The collection is currently being listed and digitised and will be catalogued and made available for public access over the next few months.

Harry Hill and Al Murray at the last night of the Meccano Club at the Market Tavern, Islington

Harry Hill and Al Murray at the last night of the Meccano Club at the Market Tavern, Islington