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Laughing All the Way to the Bank? Alternative Comedy in the Provinces

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2009

Abstract

Metropolitan snobbery and the logistics of scale both militate against the success of comedians working in the regions. Yet, as Oliver Double here argues, the scene has been a lively one, often daring in its style and range alike – at least until the absorption of its big names into the London circuits by the agencies which increasingly control most of the bookings and much of the talent. Oliver Double, himself a working comic, describes the distinctive characteristics of regional alternative comedy, and the now very real dangers of stagnation, illustrating his argument from interviews with leading comics on the regional circuits – Nick Toczek, Stu Who?, Roger Monkhouse, Malcolm Bailey, Anvil Springsteen, Adam Caveleri, Kevin Seisay, Henry Normal, and John Simmit. Offering some hopes for the future, he points out the relatively low audience figures required to ensure a vigorous growth – if only emerging talent can be nurtured rather than condemned to still birth.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1994

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References

Notes and References

1. Rayner, Jay, ‘Cracks in the Cabaret Clubs’, The Observer, 16 04 1989, Sec. 5, p. 1819.Google Scholar

2. Interview with Bailey, Malcolm, 19 05 1993.Google Scholar

3. All quotes from Nick Toczek from interview of 25 June 1993.

4. All quotes from Stu Who? from interview of 1 May 1993.

5. All quotes from Roger Monkhouse from interview of 12 May 1993.

6. All quotes from Malcolm Bailey from interview of 19 May 1993.

7. All quotes from Anvil Springsteen from interview of 1 June 1993.

8. Interview with Caveleri, Adam, 8 05 1993.Google Scholar

9. All quotes from Kevin Seisay from interview of 17 May 1993.

10. All quotes from Henry Normal from interview of 25 May 1993.

11. Connor, John, Comics (Macmillan, 1990), p. 142.Google Scholar

12. Interview with Simmit, John, 25 05 1993.Google Scholar

13. This is based on the figures of the 1991 Census, which puts Sheffield's total population at 501,202, and on the number of students registered at Sheffield's two universities, which is approximately 36,000 (16,000 at Sheffield; 20,000 at Sheffield Hallam). The Census figures may be distorted downwards by the number of people refusing to take part in order to avoid being caught for non-payment of Poll Tax: certainly, it shows a student population of only 16,475, and a total population figure which is 35,000 down on the 1981 figure of 536, 770.

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