Ref NoBSUCA/OD/1/11/1
CollectionOliver Double Collection
TitleJim Barclay interviewed by Oliver Double
Duration18 min. 33 sec.
Extent1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF)
DescriptionJim Barclay interviewed by Oliver Double, 1st February 1990.

Summary: [01:03] Interview begins [01:28] Oliver Double asks Jim Barclay (JB) what the comedy circuit was like when he first started performing and how it has changed in the alternative comedy clubs. [01:45] JB says that the acts have gotten coarser to meet a demand for something slightly different from what the demand used to be in alternative comedy. [02:11] JB says what seems to be in demand now is a wacky novelty which is either manifested by pseudo-circus things that can fit into cabaret rooms, [02:30] or a kind of street comedy that isn’t necessarily political but tends to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. [03:10] JB says that comedy has become more mainstream, therefore people are more likely to go into it, whereas before it tended to be fugitives from political theatre. [03:47] JB says the audience’s expectations are lower and are met by a lower common denominator. [03:58] OD asks what the audience was like at the Comedy Store, JB says it was a very fashionable place to be, but also a witty audience. [04:45] JB says that there were developing and working their act at only two venues, The Comedy Store and The Elgin. [05:02] OD asks if there was a subconscious split between more old-fashioned comedians and more comedians more like himself, Tony Allen and Alexei Sayle. [05:11] OD mentions that when he interviewed Tony Allen he said that a lot of the acts at the Comedy Store were “downmarket showbiz acts” and then occasionally had the likes of Les Dawson and Lenny Bennett come on. [0547] JB says that there was a tussle between what they were doing and what himself and others were doing, and that was what the audience wanted.
[06:11] OD asks about Arnold Brown. [06:37] OD asks about the alternative cabaret act that JB did. JB agrees that it was the start of the modern comedy circuit. [07:29] OD asks what it was like performing this kind of act to people who had never seen it before. [07:47] JB has always described it as being like “fringe theatre”. [08:07] JB says The Tunnel Club was usually a tough crowd. [08:30] OD asks JB his thoughts on the aforementioned “shock for shock’s sake” acts like Jerry Sadowitz and Jack Dee. [08:45] JB talks about Jerry Sadowitz’s act and explains why he likes it. [09:05] JB talks about the danger with shock comedy being that the comedian will say things they don’t actually think just to make an impression. [09:31] OD asks JB if he thinks this is what Andrew Dice Clay does, and JB further explains why this isn’t an effective way of breaking through or getting on television. [10:40] OD asks JB if he sees many cabaret acts today, and JB says he doesn’t anymore due to family priorities. [11:04] JB says he occasionally goes to see acts at the Comedy Store. [11:12] OD asks JB when he stopped performing regularly. JB says he petered out in the mid-1980s in favour of straight-acting jobs and says he got depressed with the prevailing attitude towards Margaret Thatcher from the people of Britain, that one of the one in three who voted for her would be in his audience and that he wasn’t changing anyone’s minds. [12:14] OD talks about protest culture in the late-1970s and the 1980s such as Rock Against Racism, and says that comedy was very left-wing and that some of that tradition and context has been lost. [12:45] JB says there isn’t a mood for social criticism anymore, and says what is there is “sullen resentment”. [13:18] OD asks JB what he thought of the act that was on before him the night the interview was recorded, and JB says it wasn’t polished yet.
[14:00] OD says it was quite a cynical act rather than genuinely subversive, JB says it’s convenient to be nihilistic at the moment. [15:05] OD asks JB how he would tackle that attitude, to which he says if he knew the answer to that he wouldn’t be a stand-up, he’d be a politician. [15:23] JB is convinced that people will take something away from the evening, and says of Lenny Bruce that you’ve probably got a good act if you’ve got an eleven minute set with no laughs but no talking. [15:50] JB likes having the right to talk to people, and says if it’s not funny it’s at least listenable. [16:05] OD asks if JB will keep doing stand-up comedy, and JB says that he would because he has more freedom as a stand-up comedian than he does as a straight theatre actor.
[16:49] OD asks JB if he’s seen Tony Allen’s most recent act and tells him about it. [17:40] JB says he has an old-fashioned view to stand-up comedy that it should be funny.
[18:03] Recording ends
NotesLPCM wave 24 bit 48kHz. Digitised using Denon Cassette Deck DN-790R, Roland Edirol UA-55, and Adobe Audition CC 2014. 2015-07-21.
This interview was originally recorded on sound cassette BSUCA/OD/1/11 Side A; a digital copy has been made for access purposes.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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