Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A New Generation Of Punk Rock

In a divorce settlement between me and sleep, I would cite the following three documentaries:
Westway To The World (2000) directed by Don Letts
Dogtown and Z-boys (2001) directed by Stacy Peralta
The Filth and The Fury (2000) directed by Julien Temple

Each one has struck me that a group of passionate individuals can come together and by sheer grit and determination will eventually find success, despite the world around them acting disinterested and/or aggressively negative.

I couldn't help but draw comparisons between the plight of early punk-rockers and skaters - struggling to have their art-form recognised - and the community of improvisers that surround me who are working hard on putting on brilliant shows while possible audience members wander unknowingly by.

Joe Strummer, the front-man for The Clash, was an intellectual and brilliant man with a passion that could rip a hole in parliament. Watch Westway To The World and you can't help but be struck by how focussed he was in achieving his goal. Hang the punk conventions on the wall, this guy avoided mind-limiting drugs and people who would lead him astray. Punk Rock was his addiction, his religion and his reason. I could list plenty of improvisers who feel the same about their art.

The Clash went on for longer than most bands have ever managed, and produced brilliant songs throughout their time; songs that everyone knows. A rare accolade for any band, and certainly one that won't be managed by any current popular television-age act I can think of.

There is footage of the Z-boys Skateboarding Team in Dogtown where they unleash their stunts on an unsuspecting crowd at a 1970's skateboarding competition. Until that moment skateboarding had been a balletic sport performed by pretty-boys in tight white vests and finely coiffed hair-dos, who did graceful handstands on their boards and balanced with stiff backs. Then the Z-boys appear from nowhere, hitting the deck with slides and skids and jumps, screeching round the park as close to the ground as they could with threadbare jeans and t-shirts that flapped in the wind. Skateboarding was suddenly exciting. No longer were the stars made up of people who could stand-up straight, they were those who took risks and flooded the competition with unpredictability. The Z-boys were pioneers, and despite the dejected looks from the skate-stars of the day, the crowd had now been subjected to the future of skating.

I couldn't help picturing Michael McIntyre in a tight white vest after that, much to the horror of my own sub-conscience.

You can see where I got my inspiration for the website design from. I genuinely believe improv is a new punk-rock. We are doing comedy our way, the way we believe it should be done. We do improv because it is exciting, new, ever-changing and not tied down by existing conventions. It worked for stand-up comedians twenty-five years ago, and now look.

We will do this whether we get an audience or whether we don't; but do you remember the names of the politicians that tried to get The Sex Pistols removed from the country, or do you know The Pistols as one of the most iconic bands in music history? Improvisers are passionate people who are doing good stuff. I take solace in believing that once it kicks off, impro will forever be a leviathan on the British comedy timeline. I know where I want to be when that happens.

God save the Queen.

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