Monday, June 3, 2013

Didn't You Kill My Mother-in-Law?

1989, two copies, both possibly first edition, from Methuen
Roger Wilmut and Peter Rosengard
Didn't You Kill My Mother-in-Law?: The Story of Alternative Comedy in Britain from The Comedy Store to Saturday Live
Original price £7.99, purchase prices £3.50 and $6.50
Worn paperbacks, one with breaking spine, other with a bit of my writing in it

I bought one of these in England in 1996, hoping it would include information on the cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the improv comedy/game show that premiered in '88.  There's not much, nor is there much on Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, or other comedians who I was interested in then and now.  Still, it's an interesting read, with British "alternative" comedy developing in a very different way than the roots of Saturday Night Live.  The "no racist or sexist jokes" rule at the Comedy Store is hard to imagine in most American venues, especially nowadays.  (Out gay/lesbian comics also seem to have broken through earlier in the U.K.)  The title plays on both the Comic Strip Film Didn't You Kill My Brother? and on the rejection of mother-in-law jokes and similar.  Rosengard opened the London Comedy Store after visiting the one in L.A.  Wilmut wrote the bulk of the book though.  I'm using the "television criticism" tag because Wilmot quotes from and critiques not just the stand-ups but from the television programmes that these comics made, e.g. The Young Ones.

I got the second copy of this book back in the U.S. not long after my return.  Since my ex-husband and I enjoyed British comedy, I wrote notes in this one and sent it to him.  When he got rid of most of his possessions during an ill-fated move, I ended up with his copy again and he's never asked for it back.  So I'll keep that one and donate the British copy to my favorite bookstore.

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