Ref NoBSUCA/OD/1/11/2
CollectionOliver Double Collection
TitleAlexei Sayle interviewed by Oliver Double
Duration18 min. 33 sec.
Extent1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF)
DescriptionAlexei Sayle interviewed by Oliver Double, 5th April 1990.
Summary: [00:11] Oliver Double [OD] explains to Alexei Sayle [AS] that he’s looking at the history of British stand-up comedy specifically looking at the differences between different traditions like music hall, working men’s clubs and the alternative scene.
[00:34] OD clarifies that AS has given up stand-up comedy temporarily, which AS confirms and explain his reasons; it got in the way of other things he wanted to do, couldn’t really regenerate or change, and didn’t want to end up like the other imitators of himself.
[01:19] OD asks when he stopped the London circuit, and says that there wasn’t really a circuit before him [01:41] AS talks about being in a fringe theatre group called Thrupenny Theatre, [01:54] and OD clarifies that he’s read the book by Willmott.
[02:03] AS says he met other people at the opening of the Comedy Store. [02:27] OD asks AS what he thinks of the way alternative comedy has developed since he started. [03:05] AS says that the stand-up comedy boom has only just happened in Britain. [03:28] AS says that the alternative comedy scene was inevitable because there was an audience for it.
[03:54] AS has a feeling that there was an audience out there looking for a rock sensibility in comedy, before that Billy Connolly and Jessica Carrott had more of a folky sensibility.
[04:15] AS talks about the tradition of wanting to go out and have a laugh starting with Victorian music hall in the 1930s, and that contemporary humour had “died and withered into a rump of whatever the other stuff was”.
[04:27] OD asks AS what sort of audience the alternative comedy attracted, and AS says it varied, posh people, people from show-business, Pamela Stephenson, Americans, sensations seekers, but also the hipper end of that. [05:06] OD asks if it was an arty elite of people, and AS says it was mostly people who wanted a drink.
[05:10] OD asks how people took the stylistic political new style. [05:42] AS says a lot of the gigs he did before the Comedy Store ended in fights because people didn’t have a perception of what it was he was attempting to do.
[05:52] When AS and Tony Allen went to the Edinburgh Festival in 1980, there was a review in the student paper that didn’t know what they were trying to do, which he finds ironic given the development of the Edinburgh Fringe in the space of nine or ten years. [06:33] OD asks if he minded people not getting it, to which AS says it was evitable.
[06:50] OD asks AS what he thinks of the idea that the stand-up style has become stagnated and commercialised. [07:07] AS says he’s reluctant to criticise too much, [07:25] but says the attention of television wasn’t always helpful, even though he admits that he was picked up by television very quickly with the Young Ones which used the medium in an exciting way, AS says that British television doesn’t have a veracious appetite for performance.
[07:45] AS says he would imagine that television performers are encouraged, have their 10 minutes and be seen by Paul Jackson. [08:00] AS says people are more career orientated today because they have to be, and that he didn’t think about it as a career when he first started.
[08:22] OD asks AS what he thought of the movement to television.
[08:56] OD asks AS if he will go back into stand-up.
[09:42] Interview 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 B; 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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