Some artistic revolutions are only recognised in hindsight, some spotted when they're actually happening. Vasari knew he was living through a Renaissance, so did Brian Epstein. As Stewart Lee's 3rd television series comes to an end it's clear to me that nothing less than a one-man revolution in stand-up comedy has occurred.
It's quite obvious that Del Boy's fall through the bar is far more than slapstick. It is one of the most complex and richly persistent gags in world culture - the undermining of the male peacock, the crumpling of male vanity, the puncturing of the deluded male ego: in short, the perennial comedy of the mating game.
Such is the tedium served up these days, making stark the realisation that the bile and satire of 30 years ago has vanished. Watching such inchoate comedy (I'm not sure it's even stand-up) is like having your leg humped by a glove puppet: it's attention grabbing but without the necessary aggression which is key to the best comedy.
The central character in Punch is the most heinous, twisted, barbarous person I have ever tried writing. He's impervious to any shred of empathy, tact or compassion and yet I agree with (almost) everything he says.
I will say this: feminism, especially feminism on the comedy circuit, is in a weird place right now. From my experiences the past few years doing stand up, I've learnt that if you're a woman on the circuit you're expected to feel a certain way about certain issues, shun certain organisations, promoters and publications, and conversely, embrace others.
The Next Thing: McClanahan's first novel will be put out next year by Tyrant Books. He is also writing The Sarah Book in 2012, a chapter of which is included here. Which is all looking pretty good for McClanahan disciples, particularly as he's planning some readings in Europe for next year. Look out for him.