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STAND UP COMEDY TIMELINEÖ..
mid 1800ís Ė WW1:
- The Music Hall. Solo artists were usually singers of comic songs, with larger than life costumes, but provided the basis for the development of the modern stand up.
1920ís and 30ís :
- Music Hall develops into Variety; end Ėof-the-pier type shows with artists such as George Formby, Sandy Powell Gracie Fields and Max Miller.
- Variety theatres avoid the rigid censorship, which still stifles Theatre.
- Radio shows begin to widen the audiences, and sales of comedy sketches on record grow.
1939-45: ENSA and others entertain the troops during wartime.
1940ís and 50ís:
- Radio comedy includes the Goon Show, Round the Horne, ITMA etc. Frankie Howerd, Max Byegraves prosper as well as the morose Tony Hancock. Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick introduce gay slang into the nation's living rooms as Julian and Sandy. Peter Brough achieves the distinction of being a successful radio ventriloquistÖ.
- Growth of the "clubs" circuit. Initially the members-owned Working Menís clubs, later the growth of private social clubs, chains such as Mecca Ballrooms.
- TV begins to expose comedians such as Bruce Forsyth on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise are amongst comedians with regular TV shows.
- That was the Week that Was launches cutting-edge satire, while Peter Cook (prop. of the satirical Establishment club) appears with Dudley Moore.
- The growth of cinema and TV cause the sharp decline in the variety circuit.
- The social clubs and the variety theatres in decline, but TV and the working menís clubs remain buoyant.
- ITV produces "The Comedians"; showcasing club comics like Bernard Manning, Mike Reid, Charlie Williams and Jim Bowen.
- Forerunners of alternative comedy emerge with the likes of Monty Pythonís Flying Circus and Dave Allen.
- Altcom begins in force. Comedy Store opens in Soho in 1979, compered by Alexi Sayle. Performers include Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Ben Elton, Andy de la Tour, Sandi Toksvik.
- Thatcher government provides endless material for "political" comedians.
- Gay comics such as Simon Fanshawe and Julian Clary,
- Feminist performers include Jenny Lecoat, Helen Lederer, Jo Brand and Claire Dowie.
- Altcom begins to move away from politics, the more surreal comedians prosper- such as Eddie Izzard, Harry Hill, and Alan Davies.
- The sketch show format sees a revival in fortunes; The Mary Whitehouse Experience launches Rob Newman and David Baddeil, while in the late 1990ís Goodness Gracious Me becomes the first mainstream Asian sketch show. The League of Gentlemen win the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh festival.
- Popularity of comedy from performance poets continues- John Hegley, John Toczek, Attilla the Stockbroker etc.
- The political acts move away from simply ranting at the mic, into stunt based satire, like Mark Thomas and Ali G.
- Meanwhile many of the stand-ups who were leading the circuit in the 1980ís and early 90ís move away from the format (Lee Evans into fims, Ben Elton into play-writing, Julian Clary into quiz show hosting.)
- Working Menís clubs continue to decline, and tending to only employ bands.
- Comedy clubs, however, continue to develop, many more being set up outside London.
- BBC Talent attempts to launch new talent, although fewer openings on mainstream TV.