Episode 6 of ‘A History of Comedy in Several Objects’ is now available on iTunes and acast. In this episode we look at strongly-worded letter written to that legend of early alternative comedy, Jim Barclay. This angry missive was provoked by a riotous show by Alternative Cabaret at Goldsmiths College Students’ Union in 1979. Expect deviance, titillation and Keith Allen. We also have excerpts from an exclusive interview with Jim Barclay himself!
In the fifth episode of A History Of Comedy In Several Objects, now out on the iTunes store, we talk to legendary political comedian, Mark Thomas. We look at his particularly absurd object (a squeezy hand grenade! You’ll have to listen to find out more information…) which leads us to discuss big topics as whether comedy can create change and what is the role of a stand-up comedian? Join Olly and Elspeth to explore Mark’s unique engagement in the world stand-up comedy and the world in general.
Squeezy stress grenade (Mark Thomas Collection). Photo Matt Wilson
In the fourth episode of A History Of Comedy In Several Objects, now out on the iTunes store, we get to grips with comedians’ set lists, whilst exploring how scripts and prompts are used in stand-up. We see some archived materials from influential comedians, including Josie Long’s spider diagrams, Linda Smith’s notes, Andy de la Tour’s scripts and, the main feature of this episode, Robin Ince’s postcard set-lists written for one of his ‘Robin Ince is as Dumb as You‘ 2005 shows. We also feature exclusive audio clips from Andy de la Tour and Linda Smith performing life stand-up comedy.
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.
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!
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