ICYMI: Amelia Bayler on The Young Ones
In this new series, we ask comedians to get a hold of some cult comedy they've never seen before. First up, rising star of the Scottish circuit Amelia Bayler drops some truths on the alternative comedy catalyst
Series one of The Young Ones undid the 14 hours of meditation I had completed on the mindfulness app on my phone… within the first three minutes. There is a lot of shouting and stuff. The last few months of my life spent trying to be mentally and physically well seemed irrelevant as one of the characters, a punk called Vyvyan, entered the scene for the first time by falling through a wall.
I fell in love with the unlikeable and disgusting characters instantly. The show centres around a group of students played by a bunch of alt comedy legends: a wanky emo poet (Rik Mayall), an angry punk guy (Adrian Edmondson), a preppy dude (Christopher Ryan) and a sad hippie guy (Nigel Planer). Alexei Sayle also does an alt comedy-style cameo as their landlord and some other pricks. Watching the show is almost like watching Skins but in an alternate universe where all the main characters are straight white guys and on speed rather than MDMA. As I watched the students argue through each episode I almost felt like I was back at a tutorial at uni – just replace the angry punk guy with a Nike Huarache-wearing DJ/promoter.
The show is like a comedy Kinder Bueno: nutty observational humour wrapped inside delicious absurdist craziness. Jesus, I’m good at similes. There is a vague narrative broken up by moments where parts of the house come to life as a sort of puppet show and occasionally the characters talk directly to the camera – mainly to perform some purposefully bad stand-up. It has the same subversive energy as when Nirvana went on Top of the Pops and refused to mime properly.
There is a cool (insert cool emoji here) band on each episode who play a next level banger and interact vaguely with what’s going on. There are also like fake TV show segments including a show called Nozin’ Around which is a parody of TV shows made for young people. Yeah, the show is meta as f ('meta' is quite a trendy word to say right now, isn’t it? Meta meta meta meta meta. ‘I was really meta today. I ate a burger within another burger. It was a Big Mac.’) I like the vibe ‘coz so much different stuff is going on it’s almost like I’m flicking through Instagram stories but I don’t have to press a screen on my phone, I can just lie lifeless under the covers and let it wash over me as I shove cheese puffs into my mouth.
I feel the same way about getting into The Young Ones as I did about trying to get into The Velvet Underground when I was younger. Like, I’d be listening to Heroin thinking I was super cool… but I’d be sitting in my Superman pyjamas, eating Special K and arranging to meet my pals for a panini or something. Now, I’m watching these boundary-pushing guys do their thing while the most forward-thinking thing I’ve done recently with comedy is probably plan my travel for a gig booked for 2019.
If you’re into Bridget Christie, Stewart Lee or The Mighty Boosh then you’ll enjoy watching this. And vice versa. And in terms of live stuff, also check out the alt comedy nights we have in Glasgow and Edinburgh: Chunks, Peter Pancakes, Project X, Lightbulb and Komedy. I love them. <3