Stand-Up Comedy and Everyday Life: Post-war British Comedy and the Subversive Strain

Christopher Ritchie
This thesis "examines stand-up comedy and its relation to everyday life and presents a model of everyday life in the commodity society. It seeks to define stand up comedy and how it works as a performance mode and will offer a definition of the stand-up comedian. It will examine how jokes reflect opinions and attitudes within everyday life and how they can communicate negative cultural myths, stereotypes and ideologies but also reach beyond the merely absurd and comical to present authentic
more » ... nts that enable us to locate the truth about ourselves. The thesis seeks to locate a stand-up comedy that enables us to understand ourselves in relation to life in the commodity society. The thesis traces a subversive lineage through post-Second World War comedy from The Goon Show through the satirists of the 1960s and Monty Pylhon's Flying Circus to Alternative Comedy and stand-up comedians in the present day. The 'Alternative Comedy moment' between 1979 and 1981 is central to the thesis as is the relation to American stand-up comedy, Punk and the rise of reactionary humour in Britain. Alternative Comedy is identified and placed in a social, political and counter-cultural context. The achievements and failures of this comedy will be discussed with particular focus on the redefinition of the role of women and sexual politics in stand-up comedy and the creation of a thriving London cabaret and comedy scene. An argument against televised stand-up comedy and for live comedy will be put forward, as will an argument for a National Comedy Archive that will reflect the richness and continual changes within stand-up comedy in the last fifty years.
doi:10.25602/gold.00028986 fatcat:4gljz22m2be3hppdwsc77fzk7y