Culture Magazine

How Has British Comedy Changed in the Last Twenty Years? One Interesting View.

By Thejohnfleming
What has changed? Maybe mouths have got bigger.

How has comedy changed? Have mouths have got bigger?

On Saturday 9th February, I’m going to be on the panel of a Leicester Comedy Festival event at De Montfort University called Oh How We Laughed! Also on the panel will be the London Comedy Store’s owner Don Ward and doyenne of UK comedy critics Kate Copstick. Allegedly, we will be discussing the changes in UK comedy over the last twenty years.

I was asked to give a quote about the Leicester Comedy Festival.

I tried:

I am glad to say that, although it has been going for 20 years – unlike Leicester cheese – it has never matured.

The Leicester Comedy Festival is even older than some of the jokes I hear in endless TV panel shows.

And, about comedy in general:

There were more odd variety acts 20 years ago and I think they may be staging a comeback now. Maybe the era of the pure stand-up is ending.

It’s about time the ‘alternative’ was put back into alternative comedy

The excitement of 20 years ago has changed into reliability. This is not a good thing.

I could not get any of those quotes quite right, so I thought I would ask an acquaintance who likes comedy on TV and in clubs but is not obsessed by it and who, more importantly, is not part of the comedy business. In other words, this person is that legendary, seldom-quoted figure: an ‘ordinary’ person.

I thought there might be some mention of the taming of alternative comedy, of the Michael McIntyre factor making comedy less rebellious. After all, next month Malcolm Hardee will have been dead for eight years.

That was not what was said.

This is what I was told had changed in UK comedy over the last twenty years:

“It’s got nastier in the last twenty years. Ruder. More unpleasant. It’s now got that Fuck off! What are you staring at? kind of attitude. Kicking people when they’re down. Trying to outdo each other by being as crude as possible.”

There speaks an ordinary British comedy-goer who has seen comedy over the last twenty years.


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