Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #76 – The Alternative Comedy Experience

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 This week Comedy Central, a network devoted to repeating American sitcom Friends until your eyes bleed, began a new stand-up show dedicated to alternative comics. Sort of.

The Alternative Comedy Experience features performers that’ll probably not be appearing on Live at the Apollo or Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow any time soon. “Curated” by Stewart Lee – that’s booked to you and me – the show features a range of different performers and short backstage interviews with Lee at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh.

In the opening episode, performances came from Peep Show star Isy Suttie, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner David O’Doherty, Canadian stand-up Glenn Wool, German comedy ambassador Henning Wehn, Mordrin McDonald: 21st Century Wizard’s David Kay and musical comedian Boothby Graffoe – who doesn’t come from the town of Boothby Graffoe but is named after it…

Looking past The Alternative Comedy Experience’s main flawhalf these acts have already enjoyed high-profile, mainstream exposure, so how exactly are they an ‘alternative’? – Stewart Lee has put together a quality line-up here. Henning Wehn and Isy Suttie were the stand-out performers this week, with routines on a German beer festival in Scotland and relationships respectively, but the overall quality on offer meant the opening episode flew by.

Which brings me to another obvious problem with the show; it’s too short. For me, six acts in less than 30 minutes (due to adverts) isn’t extensive enough. Either they should have less acts in the same time frame, or – ideally – extend the show to 45 or 60 minutes. Likewise, the backstage interviews were so small they’re almost negligible, though they’d fit in nicely with a longer programme.

The only other minor complaint isn’t with the show, but with the channel itself and their annoying animated promotional graphics violating my telly. Infuriating.

I suppose, though, that’s something I can put up with given the quality output on offer here. The Alternative Comedy Experience might not be the Comedy Roadshow antithesis, but if you like your stand-up it’s definitely worth seeking out.