Tag Archives: alternative cabaret

HistComPod – Episode 3 ‘Comedy Trade Union’

The third episode of A History Of Comedy In Several Objects (or HistComPod for short) is now available via iTunes.

Join Olly and Elspeth for another week spelunking in the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive as they look at an attempt to establish a Comedy Trade Union in 1983, and go through a list of all the key acts in the alternative comedy scene of the day, where future stars like French and Saunders rubbed shoulders with long forgotten performers whose gags are now lost in the mists of time.

The specific focus of this episode is a letter written in 1983 by Andy de la Tour and Lee Cornes to others involved in the alternative cabaret scene at the time about the formation of a ‘union’ for performers, looking particularly at pay from specific venues. This letter is from the Andy de la Tour Collection (within this folder of material).

Olly also talks about a new group, the UK Comedy Guild; the article discussed (‘Gagging rights: British comedians set up UK Comedy Guild trade union’ by Paul Fleckney) can be found on The Guardian website.

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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.

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.

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