From alternative to cult
Mapping post-alternative comedy
in Cult British TV comedy
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This introductory chapter maps out the terrain of post-alternative comedy. It examines its relationship to alternative comedy (defined as both a specific moment in comedy history and a broader tradition of oppositional or cult comedy). It sets out some of the institutions that have helped to mark out a non-mainstream television comedy; the public service ethos of niche broadcasting, channels like BBC 2 and 3, radio comedy, Oxbridge Footlights, the Edinburgh Festival and Perrier Award. It argues that both the ‘alternative’ and the ‘post-alternative’ can be mapped onto notions of cult and quality TV, defined by circulation and reception (and the possession of cultural or subcultural capital), but also requiring some kind of notional ‘mainstream’ to define itself again. The chapter also provides a cultural-historical and institutional framework for the post-alternative era.

Cult British TV comedy

From Reeves and Mortimer to Psychoville

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