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Comedians

people waters challenor principles

a play by Trevor Griffiths, performed in 1975 and published in 1976. It involves six working-class men, studying to become professional comedians with Eddie Waters, who believes that a good joke, far from exploiting prejudice or perpetuating racial or sexual stereotypes, truthfully illuminates the things that worry or frighten people. However, they are asked to audition for a London agent, Bert Challenor, who is ‘not looking for philosophers but for someone who sees what the people want and gives it to them’. Some of the apprentice comedians try to remain true to their teacher's principles and are rejected; some renounce those principles and are accepted; and one, Gethin Price, ignores both Waters's ideas and Challenor's wishes. Dressed as a blend of the Soviet clown Grock and a football hooligan, and facing two dummies in evening dress, he uses his act for a ferocious display of class aggression. The play is an attempt partly to define the nature of humour, but mainly to use humour as a metaphor for people's behaviour in capitalist society, dividing its characters into opportunists, liberal humanists, and one lonely revolutionary.

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