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Different Times: A History of British Comedy

David Stubbs

A history of the great British comedy tradition of the twentieth century to the present day.

35 in stock

Date Published
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They don’t make comedy like they used to . . .

From the slapstick comedy of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, the surrealism of Spike Milligan and Monty Python, and the golden age of political incorrectness helmed by Benny Hill, to the alternative scene that burst forth following the punk movement, the hedonistic joy of Absolutely Fabulous, the lacerating scorn of Jimmy Carr, Ricky Gervais, and Jo Brand and the meteoric rise of socially conscious stand up today: comedy can be many things, and it is a cultural phenomenon has come to define Britain like few others.

In Different Times, David Stubbs charts the superstars that were in on the gags, the unsung heroes hiding in the wings and the people who ended up being the butt of the joke. Comedians and their work speak to and of their time, drawing upon and moulding Britons’ relationship with their national history, reflecting us as a people, and, simply, providing raucous laughs for millions of people around the world.

Different Times is a joyous, witty and insightful paean to British comedy.

Critic Reviews

Full of interesting tidbits for comedy aficionados … An entertaining read.

Independent (Books of the Month)
Critic Reviews

An ambitious survey ... He has watched a lot, read a lot, crams a lot in. When he writes well, he writes beautifully.

Critic Reviews

A fascinating and very readable social history. It covers a century in depth ... A hymn to those times.

Irish Times
Critic Reviews

A nice fat volume about our national comic self-image by an astute music writer is exactly what the funny business needs ...Bracingly political ... The focus on class – the hidden diversity challenge within comedy – is welcome and invigorating ... A valuable record.

Critic Reviews

[An] impressive survey ... Stubbs’s book helps us in a necessary task: to reflect on the implications of being a nation that sees its willingness to laugh at itself as an uncomplicated virtue. The trouble is, comedy has consequences.

Jonathan Coe, LRB
Critic Reviews

There are some lovely passages here, beautifully crafted pen-portraits of humour’s high-water marks and titans of titter.


David Stubbs is a British author and music journalist. Alongside Simon Reynolds, he was one of the co-founders of the Oxford magazine Monitor before going on to join the staff at Melody Maker. He later worked for NME, Uncut and Vox, as well as the Wire. His work has appeared in The Times, Sunday Times, Spin, Guardian, Quietus and GQ.…

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