Tag Archives: alternative comedy

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.

BSUCA-AT-006-002-A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

HistComPod – Episode 1 ‘Foodstuff’

The first ever episode of ‘A History Of Comedy In Several Objects’, alternatively known as ‘HistComPod’ is now available on the iTunes podcast store.

The podcast, devised and presented by Dr Oliver Double (Director of the Comedy & Popular Performance Research Centre and previously a professional comedian) and Elspeth Millar (Archivist in the University’s Special Collections & Archives), aims to illustrate the history of stand-up comedy through objects found within the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive. Each episode features a particular item/object/record from the archive, which Olly and Elspeth discuss to show what it reveals about the art and craft of stand-up and the recent history of the form.

In the jam-packed inaugural episode, Olly and Elspeth discuss the origins of the archive, the project of the podcast and whether it’s possible to archive a performance. The articles that we reference are:

The main feature of this first episode is an orange from the Josie Long Collection. The orange was originally from one of Josie’s ‘Trying is Good’ shows, but was returned to Josie as part of ‘All the Planet’s Wonders’ (check out Josie’s call for ‘Edinburgh Ephemera’ here). Olly and Elspeth engage with the decomposing citrus fruit and the significance it has, whilst touching upon Elspeth’s “archivist’s guilt”.

An orange in a box donated to Josie Long as part of her ‘All of the Planets Wonders’ tour. Image: Matt Wilson, University of Kent

 

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).

IMG_20151130_135848

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.

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