The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

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The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (ACMS) is a British comedy night, where comedians are invited to perform sets that might not work at more mainstream comedy nights. It was founded by John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck at the New Red Lion Theatre[1] in Islington, London. For a while it was mainly held at the Soho Theatre, but now the regular London venue is The Phoenix, Cavendish Square.[2] Each year there are Alternative Comedy Memorial Society shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. ACMS has been running since March 2011, usually on Monday evenings. The group's logo is a boulder emblazoned with 'JOKE?' being pushed up a hill, representing the slogan 'Fresh Sysiphean Comedy'.[3][4]

The show[edit]

The show is curated and hosted by John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck. There are a group of regular comedians, referred to as "The Board", including William Andrews, Steve Pretty, Tom Bell, Bridget Christie, Alexis Dubus, Nadia Kamil, Josie Long, Sara Pascoe, Isy Suttie and Ben Target.[citation needed] The ACMS has developed a number of in-jokes, such as a list of permitted heckles and a repeated call and response with the audience.

In December 2012, the "AXMS panto" debuted. This was loosely structured around a performance of Aladdin, and played with many pantomime conventions.[citation needed]

The show has been filmed as a series of Comedy Blaps for Channel 4, which were released in 2013. The series is produced by Adrian Sturges and directed by Chris Shepherd.[5][6]



In The Guardian in 2014, Paul Merton described ACMS as somewhere audiences go to enjoy the art of comedy.[7] In The Guardian in 2016, Simon Munnery described ACMS as keeping alternative comedy alive, even as they claim to memorialise it.[8] In 2018 The British Comedy Guide referred to ACMS as a "mighty institution".[9]

On the other hand, Stewart Lee has suggested that ACMS doesn't represent the working classes in the way that 1980s alternative comedy did, and in 2019 a speaker at the University of Kent's 'Alternative Comedy Now' conference questioned whether ACMS are the inheritors of the alternative comedy ethos, suggesting that the shows are too highbrow and exclusive.[10][11]

See also[edit]

  • Quantum Leopard – stand-up comedy night in London


External links[edit]