Attitude - Wanna make something of it?

You often hear established alt comics talk fondly of their grimy days knocking out the lyrics in the pubs, clubs and street corners. But you won't find many of them whose connection to street level alternative comedy has remained as umbilical as Tony Allen's. Along with Alexie Sayle, Allen co-founded the Alternative Cabaret in West London in the Seventies, a genuinely wacky club widely acknowledged as the birth place of the modern alt. comedy scene in the UK. These days, of course, alt comedy is a mainstream genre. Back then it was the domain of mavericks, wackos, nutters and clowns. And Allen served it up with the best of 'em.

What makes his book so relentlessly entertaining, is not only the lucidity of the writing (which devoured hours of my reading time without second thought), it's the integrity, diversity and gritty reality of the author's experiences and observations. I mean you can't write about becoming embroiled in a mud fight at Glastonbury Festival, getting CS gassed by the police and then going on stage in the Green Futures Field to do a show unless you actually did it. And Attitude is chocca full of such anecdotes; the collected experiences and sketches of a comedic raconteur whose evidently been hanging out in all the interesting places for decades. You just couldn't make this shit up. It says something of the man's pedigree that you might still find Tony Allen down at Speakers' Corner of a weekend, half way up a step ladder goading an audience into participation. Or issuing forth a stream of surreality in the middle of a political demo. Or even, on stage in a comedy club! Such incessant practice is evident throughout the book. Half conceived as a guide book for prospective stand up comedians, the breadth of subject range and hilariously dry insight into everything from anarcho-syndicalism to Ken Dodd carries it all the way to a much wider audience. I'd slap a score on the table and wager that almost anyone will laugh out loud incessantly whilst reading this book.

Allen's long career association with well left of centre social issues (he describes himself as anarchist) has brought him into contact with all the isms and schisms of the left. Politically correct he steadfastly refuses to remain, but politically astute and provocatively active he undoubtedly is. This book is testamount to the fact that the original Global Village Idiot is back on top form.

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