Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Media Funhouse explores the British “alternative” comedy scene (full episode)

Since late 2009 I’ve been utterly bowled over by the amount of incredibly talented British standups who we’ve never heard of here in the U.S.  The ones I’ve become a big fan of are mostly lumped into a category called “alternative” (which is as dubious in comedy in the 2010s as it was in music back in the Nineties). I’ve been chronicling my fascination with them on this blog and the weekly Funhouse TV show.

YouTube is of course the best starting place to see their work but, obviously, you have to know who they are in the first place. Thus, I can quickly note that three gents in this group have been very good about heavily touting the work of their colleagues (by interviewing them, including them in the TV and live shows they curate, and generally just spreading their names around in their writing). Those three are Richard Herring, Stewart Lee (“I actually love Catholicism, it's my favorite form of clandestine global evil.”), and Robin Ince.

For another barometer of quality in the “alternative” standup world in the UK, one need look no further than the Welsh indie DVD label Go Faster Stripe run by Chris Evans (no, not the Capt. America guy). I’ve been very happy to review their titles on the Funhouse TV show and to talk about them here on the blog — as with my recent piece on Simon Munnery, an insanely talented comedian who has several specialties, including creating humorous aphorisms (you tell me how many comedians are capable of coining aphorisms these days….)

Consider this episode a little “101” about the three acts in question: Tom Binns, a character comic who plays “Ian D. Montfort,” a psychic who doesn’t connect you with people you know, he just finds any old specter willing to talk to him (a brilliant spoof of the live psychic “experience”). The second is Robin Ince, chronicled on these pages before.

The last act is a duo, Barry Cryer and Ronnie Golden (pictured above). Golden is a veteran rocker who co-founded the Fabulous Poodles (of “Mirror Star” fame, for those who remember the “new wave” era). Cryer is a veteran comedy writer/performer (78 years old when the DVD was shot; he's 81 now) who is well-known in the U.K. for his appearances on panel shows, but who deserves endless admiration for his having written for the cream of British comedians (Morecambe and Wise, the Two Ronnies, Spike Milligan, Tommy Cooper, Bruce Forsyth) and even American comedians who visited England and needed some local material (Cryer wrote gags for Jack Benny, George Burns, and Richard Pryor — but not all together….).

Anyway, for the Funhouse viewers who are unable to watch it when it airs late Saturday night in Manhattan (it’s live on the Web at that time, East Coast U.S., at this URL) or who space out on Sundays (the stream of the show currently stays up at that same URL for most if not all of Sunday just move the playhead "back in time"), here is the first full episode that’s gone up on YT in quite some time. I hope it works for both people who know who these comedians are and those who have never heard of them (although it was clearly done with the latter in mind).

Without further ado, here is one of my latest “consumer guide” episodes, this one concerning the “alternative” acts of Go Faster Stripe:

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