Stewart Lee curates The Alternative Comedy Experience

Our guide...

Stewart Lee’s long-awaited Alternative Comedy Experience makes its debut on Comedy Central next month.

The show deliberately aims to set itself apart from the ‘shiny-floor’ stand-up programmes such as Live At The Apollo and Michael McInytre’s Comedy Roadshow, which have been criticised for showcasing only a very narrow range of observational comedians.

Instead, Lee prides himself on having selected a more eclectic, offbeat cast of comics which he feels best capture the ethos of alternative comedy’s early years from the Seventies and Eighties.

Explicitly political comics such as Andy Zaltzman and Josie Long share bills with oddballs like Paul Foot and Bridget Christie - all of whom offer material that producers say is ‘too clever, thoughtful, radical, satirical, strange, or downright stupid to make it onto the stand-up outlets of contemporary television’.

Lee does not perform any stand-up on screen himself, but conducts brief interviews with the acts he curated - during which he explains the thinking behind the show.

The 12-part series was recorded at the low-key, low-ceilinged Stand comedy club in Edinburgh in front of the ‘real, proper, live comedy crowd’ that the acclaimed venue attracts.

Comedy Central says: ‘Sadly, there’s no reaction shot cutaways to laughing celebrities. Instead, a crowd comprised of four-eyed pseudo-intellectuals and unforgiving drunks is close enough for the viewer at home to experience the sense of danger, and thrilling triumph that pervades real stand-up shows.’

Here’s our episode guide to the show, which goes out at 11pm on Comedy Central, along with a photo gallery from the series and a trailer:

Episode 1: ‘Value Bastard’ (February 5)

Cast: Stewart Lee, Isy Suttie, David O’Doherty, Glenn Wool, Henning Wehn, David Kay, Boothby Graffoe

Highlight: Glenn Wool on the C-word

Quote: Stewart Lee to Henning Wehn: ‘I know when this goes out, because Josie Long’s in it, there will be Daily Telegraph bloggers saying “Ooh, its’ got a left-wing bias.” Basically you’re going to be heavily featured to give a counterweight.’

Episode 2 (February 12)

Cast: Paul Sinha, Josie Long, Henning Wehn, David O’Doherty, Isy Suttie, Bridget Christie, David Kay.

Highlight: Mild-mannered David Kay on the very slow creep of identity theft

Quote: ‘He was basically just pickling his own unit. 1,000 years after his death his wanger will be perfectly preserved.’ David O’Doherty

Episode 3: ‘Jim Davidson’ (February 19)

Cast: Boothby Graffoe, Bridget Christie, David Kay, Paul Sinha, Simon Munnery, Josie Long, David O’Doherty

Highlight: David O’Doherty’s song about his ex’s new boyfriend, or Boothby Graffoe explaining the egg and spoon race.

Quote: ‘I can drive a tractor’ Bridget Christie

Episode 4: ‘Paedophile Hair’ (February 26)

Cast: Tony Law, Simon Munnery, Boothby Graffoe, Bridget Christie, Josie Long, Paul Sinha.

Highlight: First appearance of Tony Law in the show. He explains to Lee: ‘I’m doing a new thing... it’s not even funny but it get laughs.

Quote: ‘I’d like this series to be like slightly under-attended Tuesday night show at an arts centre. I’m not sure Comedy Central see it the same way’. Stewart Lee

Episode 5: ‘Rice pudding’ (March 5)

Phil Nichol, David Kay, Alun Cochrane, Andy Zaltzman, Bridget Christie

Highlight: Andy Zaltzman on the environment, and Britain’s former fuel sources... even though he admits political comedy is ‘career suicide’

Quote: ‘One of the great sadnesses of stand-up on TV is that they never show anybody fail any more’ Alun Cochrane

Episode 6: ‘Danger comedians’ (March 12)

Cast: Andy Zaltzman, Eleanor Tiernan, Phil Nichol, Simon Munnery, Tony Law, Henning Wehn

Highlight: Tony Law making much of the fact he hasn’t got much material: ‘This is the shittest of my many shit bits coming up...’

Quote: ‘Later on, we’ll be taking a look back at just some of the things we didn’t have time for earlier, but before we do that, here’s a sneak preview of just one of the things we don’t have time for now.’ Simon Munnery

Episode 7: ‘Ed Miliband’ (March 19)

Cast: Robin Ince, Simon Munnery, Tony Law, Josie Long, Alun Cochrane

Highlight: Simon Munnery in conversation with Richard Dawkins (ie his own finger, with a voice not far from Peter Cook’s)

Quote: ‘Join the BNP’ Josie Long

Episode 8: ‘Shouty bollocks’ (March 26)

Cast: Eleanor Tiernan, Henning Wehn, Simon Munnery, Tony Law, Boothby Graffoe

Highlight: Tony Law on the ‘kerfuffle’ of the Second World War (although he gets slightly distracted)

Quote: ‘I could have been a boxer, like my father. He could have been a boxer too.’ Simon Munnery

Episode 9: ‘Rude words’ (April 2)

Cast: Phil Nichol, Stephen Carlin, Eleanor Tiernan, Robin Ince, Simon Munnery, Henning Wehn

Highlight: Stephen Carlin on giving up booze, even though he’s Scottish

Quote: ‘These bills, they don’t make sense socially - there are all kinds of people – but they make sense on this show.’ Stewart Lee

Episode 10: ‘Disturbances’ (April 9)

Cast: Alun Cochrane, Stephen Carlin, Glenn Wool, Paul Foot

Highlight: Paul Foot’s ‘disturbances’... odd thoughts from his brain written on cards he draws from his briefcase. ‘They really are quite pointless.’

Quote: ‘I’m going to use all the worst bits and the tense silences. I love dead air.’ Stewart Lee explaining his editing process for the show to Stephen Carlin.

Episode 11: ‘Love me’ (April 16)

Cast: Maeve Higgins, Sam Simmons, Stephen Carlin, Andy Zaltzman

Highlight: Sam Simmons. Just all of it: His flip chart of surreal ideas, his oddball Q&A, and his bread stunt...

Quote: ‘Having stabbed him with a screwdriver, would you then attempt to fix a shelf to him?’ Andy Zaltzman

Episode 12: ‘Job security’ (April 23)

Cast: Henning Wehn, Simon Munnery, Maeve Higgins, Phil Nichol, Boothby Graffoe

Highlight: Stewart Lee teasing Simon Munnery about his guitar playing.

Quote: ‘From what I understand they can record the laughs from all other comedians and just put them on whatever comedian. So I’m not worried.’ Maeve Higgins

Published: 21 Jan 2013

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