How could Max Miller reduce an audience to helpless laughter just by talking about a fan dancer and her fan? Why do club audiences howl with glee at Bernard Manning's violent jokes about Pakistanis? What made audiences break out into fights at Alexei Sayle's early gigs? How did stand-up comedy begin and why has it exploded into such a huge industry now encompassing a criss-crossing network of clubs, concerts, television and radio? And what happens to a comedian when he or she steps out onto a stage and begins performing in front of an audience?
Stand-Up! is the first book to both analyse the background of stand-up and take us inside the world of being a solo comedian. Oliver Double writes a lively history of the traditions of British stand-up comedy – from its roots in music hall and variety to today's club and alternative comedy scene – and also engages in a serious exploration of what it is like to be a comedian onstage in front of a sometimes adoring and sometimes hostile audience. He looks critically at the work of such stand-up stars as Frankie Howerd, Les Dawson, Billy Connolly, Victoria Wood, Ben Elton and Eddie Izzard.