We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Alternative comedy is for people seeking an alternative to being amused.

– Samizdata commenter Endivio Roquefort I

17 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    ‘Alternative’ comedy is a tautology, surely? Comedy should be about the unexpected, an alternative interpretation, or an unexpected joining of words. Good comedy writers, like P.G. Wodehouse, prove that you can write clean comedy and still become filthy rich.
    Or do they mean that instead of surprising the audience, alternative comedy, like alternating current, will shock people into laughing?

  • Lee Moore

    The chap that always puzzled me was Ben Elton. He wrote some genuinely funny shows, so he must have had some talent. But as a stand up he was a terrible bore, who seemed to have no jokes at all. “Thatcher Bad ! Thatcher Nasty ! Beastly Thatcher !”” all screamed out at top volume. Maybe he needed an editor.

  • John B

    Proof of which in two words: Alexei Sayle.

  • Mr Ed

    They laughed, God how they laughed, when I told them that Alternative Comedy would be the wave of the future, well they’re not laughing now.

  • Mr Ed

    At one point, the US government engaged an actor who told jokes about socialism.

  • CaptDMO

    Alternative Comedy?
    Is that like Post Modern comedy?
    Is that like “ASS” and “nut shot” comedy predicted in “Idiocracy”?
    I often find the juxtaposition of (ie)WaPo headlines, the actual “story”, and ensuing interpretive commentary amusing, is THAT Alternative Comedy?
    Daily “Recent studies show…4000 years of history WRONG!” usually bolster my self esteem in a “Gee, I’m glad I’m smarter than that” king of way, often eliciting a smirk.
    Is THAT Alternative Comedy?

  • CaptDMO

    *sheesh* “… kind of way”

  • dfwmtx

    Considering I haven’t seen a definition of alternative comedy, I am left to wonder if this is an anti-joke? Because I think anti-jokes are the sort of socially-approved jokes that our progressive neo-liberal governments favor. Such as:
    Q- Why did the British Muslim cross the road?
    A- Well, it certainly wasn’t to bomb someone. Islam is a religion of peace, dontcha know, and Muslims no matter where they come from are always find upstanding citizens who assimilate into the cultures they emigrate to. What are you, some kind of Islamophobic bigot who likes to listen to offensive jokes about people? You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • RAB

    Tsk tsk Mr Ed. When nicking a genuinely funny man’s jokes, you really should give credit. That was one of Bob Monkhouse’s. 😉

    Another was… I want to die in my sleep like my dear old dad, not screaming in terror like the passengers on his bus.

    Rik Mayall was the only one of the entire bunch of so called alternative comedians who was genuinely funny.

  • There’s no such thing as “alternative” comedy. Comedy, by definition, is an alternative way of looking at the world.

    Q. “What’s pink and red and screams?”
    A. “An angry British trade unionist?”
    R. “No, a baby with a razor blade.”

    Q. “Why is it bad to have doggy-position sex with a short-haired woman?”
    A. “Because it looks like you’re screwing a 10-year-old boy.”
    R. “What’s so bad about that?”

    Q. “What’s brown and red and screams?”
    A. “A freshly-whipped Muslim.”

    Q. “knock knock.”
    A. “Who’s there?”
    R. “Fuck you.”
    Q. “Fuck you who?”
    R. “I’m Vietnamese, not Chinese, you fucking racist.”

    Don’t get me started…

  • Fraser Orr

    I think it is mostly a matter of definitions. If “alternative comedy” means shocking the sensibilities by being deliberately offensive then it seems rather jejune.

    Not that there is anything wrong with being offensive. Billy Connolly can be pretty offensive, but nonetheless hysterical. It is when all the comedy has to offer is offense that it is meritless.

    However, if it means alternative in the sense of breaking with the normal comedic structures then I think it has a lot to offer. A perfect example of this would be Monty Python who eschewed the punchline, and in many respects revolutionized comedy as a result of that and a number of other such deliberate departures. FWIW, Connolly also tends to have pretty weak punchlines, and that is I think a deliberate part of his style.

  • …if it means alternative in the sense of breaking with the normal comedic structures…

    Two words: Andy Kaufman. No other comic, before or since, has ever messed with comedy quite like he did. One sign of his greatness was that whenever he performed in small comedy clubs, half his audience consisted of people like Robin Williams, Sam Kinison and Bobcat Goldthwaite — themselves no small talent — who were left speechless by Kaufman’s antics.

  • He was amazing, no less. Latka is immortal.

  • Tedd

    That pretty much applies to “alternative” anything. Or at least it did back when the adjective might have still meant something.[/curmudgeon]

  • Mr Ed

    RAB, I was merely testing my audience, I acknowledge, for the record, the late, great Mr Monkhouse as the genitor of that gag.

    There must be, somewhere on Samizdata, a furious Lilliputian debate on intellectual property and jokes. I am too new a visitor to recall one.

  • Lee,
    Ben Elton was funny as a stand-up sometimes. His domestic observational stuff was funny. Once he got into politics he was about as funny as genital warts. Of course he wrote TV shows frequently in co-operation with somebody else like Richard Curtiss. I guess that at least partly answers your “editor” question.

    The one I absolutely cannot stand (I know he’s not of that ’80s wave) is Brand. He makes me wanna defenestrate the TV. Well, if you have Sat or cable in the UK then oddly enough these days what gets repeated is things like Porridge, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Only Fools and Horses etc…

    And therein maybe lies the rub.They deal with timeless characters and concepts. We now have a whole generation who have no memory of Maggie Thatcher. The Eltons of this world time limited themselves. It’s like me picking up an edition of Punch and expecting to be amused by a satirical cartoon about Disraeli.

  • Laird

    I never could stand Andy Kaufman and still can’t. Offensively unfunny.