Chocolate Socialist (braisedbywolves) wrote,
Chocolate Socialist

The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

I'll be hopefully getting back to my (possibly now doomed) list of Stuff To Do This Year, but one thing that's muscled it's way on is "Go to the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society 5 times". It's a late substitution - I suspect that when I came up with this list, the ACMS wasn't even a twinkle in the eye of its founders, Thom Tuck from the Penny Dreadfuls (who I must see at some point) and John-Luke Roberts from The Behemoth (who I really must see since they were possibly my favourite double act, and now they're back back back!).

I heard about it inevitably from diamond_geyser, my source of at least 50% of comedic good ideas. I was primed by the universe for seeing them though, as I'd just before that been reading Stewart Lee's great memoir, How I Escaped My Certain Fate, which spends a fair amount of its time talking about Alterative Comedy, and what it meant, maaan, and it's goals of exploration rather than repetition, and where it went off the rails, and how Stewart Lee got back into stand-up. This last phase is both triumphant and familiar, as the same acts that he was finding as kindred spirits were the ones that I was seeing when I started getiing back into stand-up as a punter - support on his first tour back was Josie Long, whose Sunday Night Adventure Club was my first comedy gig in years. In fact, that first gig also revealed to me Robin Ince and Wil Hodgson, both of whom get a mention in the book. And indeed later Adventure Clubs introduced me to first John-Luke Roberts, and later The Behemoth.

So when diamond_geyser said that there was a new comedy night, and it was called the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, I was interested, and oh folks, it is lovely. Let me, unsurprisingly, list the ways:

  • It is perpetually running behind - in so far as there is a catchphrase, it is John-Luke saying "We really do have to be getting on"
  • Actually it probably has another one - when there is an unintentional miscommunication between the hosts that brings the show to one of its knees, one or the other will explain "We're not a traditional double act..."
  • After every act, the hosts wll come on and announce "A failure!" to which the crowd respond "A noble failure!" <-- this really is urgent and key as regards the mood of it.
  • Two placards with their mottoes: "JOKE?>JOKE" and "JOKE>UNHAPPY"
  • Around the room, the list of acceptable heckles:

    • Could you speak a little more clearly?
    • Go on, tell us some jokes! The ones you've been telling us have been excellent (NOT to said in a sarcastic voice)
    • My friend is having a Stroke!
    • Isn't that a Tim Vine joke?

  • They have a flyer!

    • They have a list of acts on the flyer!
    • Some of which I suspect have not yet attended!
    • Most of which I don't actually know!
    • All of which, by their appearance on this flier, I think "Oh I should make an effort to go see them, then"

  • The actual acts have generally been good in interesting ways, though the one that stands out is the regular players performing the Two Ronnie's "Four Candles" sketch translated into French.
  • Special mention though to Will Andrews, who has a new and daft technological gimmick every week, like an alt-com Uncle Wilf.
  • Also Edward Azcel has never looked so natural or at home as here.

Though an easier sampler might be to look through diamond_geyser's tagged photos, as always.

And so I enjoyed the first 'season', and said I'd come back when it restarted in the autumn, which is, er, Today. So! If you think you might enjoy it, come down to the New Red Lion Theatre on City Road tonight, doors at 7, comedy at 8. Or come back in a fortnight!

If we were to some it up in one word, it would be “Overambitious”. If we were to sum it up in two words: “Overly Ambitious”.
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