Z is for Andy Saltzman is a political comedian. Alternatively… I’m done, phew!
Y is for the Young Ones. An alternative comedy TV sitcom and experience. It ran for two series on BBC2. Its madcap and often anarchic humour helped bring alternative comedy to the television masses in the 1980s. It also helped make household names of its writers and performers. And Madness. Alternatively Y could be for…? You tell me!
X is for… X? Are you kidding?! There are no comedians beginning with X. Actually I know one, Xavier Fernandez, but he’s not established enough to put on the alphabet at the moment. So instead, we’ve gone for X-rated comedians and stuck a picture of Frankie Boyle on there. You can’t really argue about that. We nearly said X was for Xenophobic comedians. We would have put a picture of Jim Davidson on there, but he’s in enough trouble already. Nick Nick.
W is for Victoria Wood. OK, you got us, she could have been for V too. She’s a stand up, sketch comedian who does musical songs of her own writing in between. She often collaborates with another W, Julie Walters, so alternatively we could have gone for her. There are loads more Ws, including David Walliams.
V is for Vic and Bob, AKA Reeves and Mortimer. They’re a good old fashioned unique surreal comedy double act. They utilise visually and verbally inventive material which verges on the downright twisted, with violent, cartoonish slapstick mixed in for good measure. They’ve been all over the tellybox for years. Alternatively we could have gone for Tim Vine.
U is for Stanley Unwin, a was was a British comedian and comic writer, and the inventor of his own language, “Unwinese”. An example of his language was describing Elvis and similar folks as “wasp-waist and swivel-hippy”. Alternatively for U we could have had, well… Fuck U.
T is for Ted Chippington. He started performing surreal anti-comedy in the early 80s, with a deadpan, monotone delivery. He also performed songs in his own inimitable style. He has been a big influence on the some of the last generation of comedians, including Richard Herring and Stewart Lee, who said that his act was: “a mixture of surrealism and insolent provocation and uncompromising boredom” and has cited Ted as being a big influence on him becoming a stand-up. Alternatively, T could have been for Thatcher, the evil leader of state many alternative comedians were railing against (for younger readers, think about David Cameron in a dress spanking people in a S&M club). Or we could have said Tommy Cooper, Terry Alderton or there are quite a few others. See if you can spot them all.
S is for Spike Milligan. There were plenty of contenders for this letter, but Milligan just spiked ahead of the many, being one of the most prolific writers of comedy, let alone performer and one of the funniest men who ever lived (click his name if you don’t believe me). Even in death, he found humour, with his epitaph famously reading: ‘see, I told you I was ill’. Alternatively we could have gone for fellow Goon showers Peter Sellers or Harry Secombe. Yes, we could have gone for Eric Sykes. Or Stewart Lee again. Or all the many other brilliant S named comedians.
R is for Robin Ince. From Infinite Monkey Cages to Bad Book Clubs, via many a podcast and atheist free thinking comedy, Robin Ince is an innovator and if you ever see him quickly pacing between shows in Edinburgh during August, you would be forgiven for thinking that he is quite possibly the hardest working man in show business. Which is why we’ve rated him ‘R’. Alternatively we could have gone for Reeves and Mortimer, but we’ll save them for ‘V’, any of the Russell comedians, Richard Herring has already been inserted under H, but Rik Mayall would have been a good one.
Q is for… Q?! Bloody Q! I clearly didn’t think this whole alternative alphabet through. How many comedy things start with Q? QI. That is all. Q is for QI. And QI stands for ‘Quite Interesting’, which I’m hoping is the way you’ll find this post. Lucky we have a spate of comedy panel shows in the UK. It’s a way for comedians to make a living and QI is one of the better ones, now in it’s tenth year. It has had Stephen Fry (his second appearance in the alphabet) and Alan Davies in it from the start. It has also featured many comedy performers in those ten years as guests and team captains. Alternatively Q is for Spike Milligan’s ‘Q’, a BBC2 tv series that ran for six series from the 1960s until the early 80s. (Thanks to John Kearns for that one).