'Some comedians' celebrity status outweighs their comedy' | Lee Mack speaks up about the trends in stand-up © BBC/Wall to Wall/Stephen Perry

'Some comedians' celebrity status outweighs their comedy'

Lee Mack speaks up about the trends in stand-up

Lee Mack has spoken out about comedians ‘whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy’.

The Not Going Out star says that undermines stand-ups’ traditional role as the low-status outsider a the bottom of the showbusiness pecking order.

‘Over the last 10 years or so, you can see comedians whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy,’ he told the new edition of Radio Times. ‘And it never used to be like that.

‘Comics were always the lowest rung on the ladder, front of cloth at the Royal Variety Performance. What that means is you’re only there so Take That can set up behind the curtains.

‘I’ve done it a few times and I like it because it means you’re the underdog, so it feels easier to mock everything in a good-humoured way.’

He also said that alternative comedy not only swept away sexism and homophobia – but its focus on the intellectual ‘meant a lot of physical comedy was lost’.

Although very physical acts such as Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson and Alexei Sayle were at the vanguard of that movement, Mack said there are fewer people in comedy these days ‘who know how to use their bodies’.

‘Neck-down comedy was no longer valid after the 1980s alternative comedy revolution,’ he claimed. ‘The body got thrown out with the bathwater’.

Mack also said the explosion of people doing comedy has taken some of the mystique out of the job. ‘I used to tell people I was a comic and they’d be fascinated, he said. ‘ Now all you get is, "Oh yeah, my cousin Steve’s a comic’."

Speaking to promote his role in the new family comedy film Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans, Mack also shares a story that shows how celebrities fall out of fashion.

He said that his Not Going Out co-star Bobby Ball was chatting to an young hotel receptionist when his manager told her that he used to be part of one of Britain’s most popular double acts. 

‘Oh God,’ the young woman replied. ‘Were you in Laurel and Hardy?’

Published: 16 Jul 2019

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