The 1980s and early 90s were pretty significant periods of time in the development of modern day comedy. The breakout acts that descended on the British public at the time had the same impact as Eddie’s frying pan had on Richie’s head. They knocked you down and you couldn’t get up again fast enough for more. With the era closing in on its 35th anniversary, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Trevor Rogers has unearthed some of his most prized shots of the comedians that defined that period in comedy history and his work has been brought together in the Alternative Comedy Legends photography exhibition at The Comedy Museum.
It’s pretty incredible looking back on the icons of British comedy and seeing them when they were at their freshest and fiercest right at the beginning of their career, sending you back to your own earliest memories of seeing them for yourself. Influential comedians like Dawn French (Roger & Val Have Just Got In), Jennifer Saunders, Alexei Sayle, the sadly missed Rik Mayall (Man Down), who died in 2014, Ade Edmondson (BBC’s War & Peace), Peter Richardson, Nigel Planer and Arnold Brown were all photographed by Rogers and their various mug shots and anarchic behaviour will feature in the exhibition.
Due to open on the 11th March 2015, the Alternative Comedy Legends photography exhibition will run right the way through until the end of the year on the 30th December 2015 at The Comedy Museum. With the efforts the comedians have put in over the years to support Red Nose Day, the museum will be donating a percentage of the ticket sales from the exhibition to Comic Relief 2015, giving you another good reason to get yourself down to the London museum.
Ticket prices are £5 for adults, £4 for concessions and there’s a family ticket for £15 if you want to drag the entire brood along with you. The Comedy Museum is only open between Wednesday and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm, so if you were thinking of heading down there to see some shots of Nigel Planer with the best curtains coiffure has ever been treated to at around 11 in the morning on a grey and depressing Tuesday, just for a bit of a pick-me-up, you’ll be sadly out of luck.
In addition to the exhibition, Trevor Rogers will also be signing all of the prints available to buy from the museum and a limited number of selected shots will be signed by some of the comedians that featured in them originally. Signed and non-signed prints will be available for purchase and to order, so you can get your own little memento from the great comedy era of the 1980s. As with the tickets, a percentage of the sales of the prints will be going to Comic Relief 2015.
For anyone not massively familiar with all of the comedians mentioned above – either because you’re a recently freed christian cult member looking to make up for your time trapped in a barn in Falmouth, or you’re just a bit too young, but you’re keen to buff up on your comedy history to impress the 40 year old mother of 2 from Barnet that you’ve met at a swingers party – they were the comedy legends that dominated the alternative comedy scene during the 80s. They opened up a new way of making people laugh, giving us the genius of The Young Ones and French And Saunders, and laying the foundations for a new generation of comedians, building on the work of The Goon Show, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, and The Kenny Everett Video Show.
The photography included in the exhibition surfaced after Trevor Rogers stumbled on them while rummaging through his archives from the time in the midst of a studio move. The style is monochrome portraiture for the most part with the odd one or two group shots, like the brilliant one above, but what it also shows is the sheer character that can be captured when photographing comedians.