Hosted by the inimitable Stewart Lee, Comedy Central UK's The Alternative Comedy Experience is an excellent exploration of comedy that doesn't quite fit into the mainstream of terrestrial television panel shows. While some of the names may be familiar (David O'Doherty is amongst the names on the bill) there are a lit of delights rarely made available to comedy fans outside of the Edinburgh Fringe.
One of the great things about The Alternative Comedy Experience is that it doesn't shy away from funny women. While Mock the Week may have a token woman every now and then to balance out all the testosterone, but give her little to do, this show treats female comedians as equal, and it is glorious. The wonderful Bridget Christie, who won the 2013 Edinburgh Prize (only the 4th woman to do so), is a particular stand-out in an already brilliant line-up, while previous winner O'Doherty is probably the most experienced with making his gags work in a limited time.
The show is filmed at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh, a venue I've had the pleasure of attending, and even seeing a couple of these acts performing in. This is another of the show's strengths, as, unlike some other televised comedy shows, it actually feels like a comedy venue. Anyone who's attended a comedy festival will know the delights and intimacy of a comedy venue compared to a theatre.
Comedy Central UK have made a brave commission here, especially for a channel that consists of mostly re-runs of Friends and Two and a Half Men. By it's very nature, The Alternative Comedy Experience won't appeal to everyone, and there are a few flaws to iron out before season 2, but there is plenty to enjoy in these twelve episodes, and potentially, a new favourite comedian to discover.