A celebration of 40 years of alternative comedy

Forty years after the birth of alternative comedy in 1979, the University is marking the occasion with a conference to assess the cultural and political importance of this ground-breaking movement as it developed into the current thriving UK comedy industry.

The conference will coincide with a festival of alternative comedy running from 1-4 May at the Gulbenkian Theatre, as well as an exhibition of historical artefacts from its British Stand-Up Comedy Archive. Taking part will be Alexei Sayle, Tony Allen, and Jo Brand, who will open the festival by giving the 2019 Linda Smith Lecture.

Precipitated by the opening of the Comedy Store in Soho and the formation of the group Alternative Cabaret a few weeks later, alternative comedy would go on to revolutionize the style, subject matter and politics of British stand-up.

Organised by Kent’s Popular & Comic Performance Research Centre (PCP) and the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR) at Brunel University London, the conference, Alternative Comedy Now, running from 2-3 May, will be the first major academic conference to look at this crucial cultural movement, forty years on from its inception.

Keynote speakers will be Dr Sophie Quirk, whose latest book, The Politics of British Stand-Up Comedy: The New Alternative, was published in December 2018, and Dr Oliver Double, whose next book, Alternative Comedy: 1979 and the Reinvention of British Stand-Up, is due to be published later this year.