Monday 19 August 2019

You now see comedians whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy – Lee Mack

The Not Going Out star said that things are far more competitive now, and that it is less fascinating to be a stand-up.

Lee Mack: You see comedians whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy (Ian West/PA)
Lee Mack: You see comedians whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy (Ian West/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Lee Mack has said that there are currently plenty of comedians whose “celebrity status” outweighs their comedy talent.

The stand-up comic, TV show panellist and actor also praised the positive changes in the comedy landscape in recent years, such as the decrease in sexism and homophobia-based comedy, but that it means there is now a lack in physical comedy.

Mack told Radio Times magazine: “Over the last 10 years or so, you can see comedians whose celebrity status outweighs their comedy, and it never used to be like that.

I used to tell people I was a comic and they’d be fascinated

“Comics were always the lowest rung on the ladder, front of cloth at the Royal Variety Performance. What that means is you’re only there so Take That can set up behind the curtains.

“I’ve done it a few times and I like it because it means you’re the underdog, so it feels easier to mock everything in a good-humoured way.”

Referring to other changes in the industry, the Not Going Out and Would I Lie To You? star said that there are fewer people in comedy these days “who know how to use their bodies”.

“Neck-down comedy was no longer valid after the 1980s alternative comedy revolution. Everything became about the cerebral.

“And with that came positive things – it helped get rid of some of the sexism and homophobia – but it also meant a lot of physical comedy was lost.

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Lee Mack attending the premiere of Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans (Chris Radburn/PA

“The body got thrown out with the bathwater.”

Mack, who appears in the the new children’s film Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans, said that things are far more competitive now for comedians.

Having been on the comedy circuit since the mid-1990s, he said: “I used to tell people I was a comic and they’d be fascinated.

“Now all you get is: ‘Oh yeah, my cousin Steve’s a comic’.”

Radio Times is available now.

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