The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, or ACMS, is a late-night comedy showcase. However, it is most definitely unlike any other show of its kind. If the night can be said to have a theme, it might be the non-traditional. Their catchphrase (or one of many) is ‘Joke?’, and that, I think, amply sums it up. Each act is celebrated as ‘a noble failure’, and you will hear very few real jokes, creating a space for comedians to experiment with some of their stranger material.

There’s no knowing in which direction any ACMS night will go, though if it is a failure, it will be a noble one.

The glue that holds the entirely surreal night together consists of comperes Thom Tuck and John-Luke Roberts, who by turns seem to love and despise each other, step on each other’s jokes, and set the tone for the anarchic atmosphere that is the backbone of the night. They also take you through the long-standing ‘permitted heckles’ at ACMS - these are excellent, including lines such as ‘we appreciate what you’re trying to do’, and bring you into the group: ACMS has a cult following, one into which you feel initiated rather than excluded.

To give an example of the kind of thing that happens there, though it changes each night, and often the acts don’t know what they’re going to do until they’re onstage, I will take you some of last night’s highlights. There was Lolly, spouting nonsense as an idiotically earnest keyboard warrior, The Herbert, whose very long arms and sponge eyes were inexplicably hilarious, and a song about a skin sofa from Jay Foreman. Essentially, everything you will see there will be bizarre, inventive and most likely very funny. The regular ACMS performers (or ‘the ACMS board’) read like a who’s who of the best alternative comics on the scene, so you’re generally in good (if drunken) hands, as you are with Tuck and Roberts as they preside over their hour of the ridiculous.

If you want to see something different, fun, and uncertain, this is the show for you. These five stars come with a warning however - there’s no knowing in which direction any ACMS night will go, though if it is a failure, it will be a noble one.

Reviews by Laurie Kilmurry

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The Blurb

The strange and glorious comedy night marches on in Edinburgh for the fifth year running, with changing bills of baffling and brilliant acts. All hosted – and over-booked – by Thom Tuck, ‘convincingly addicted to online gambling’ (Evening Standard) and John-Luke Roberts, ‘a welcome deviation’ (List). Willful excellence, now in a building with walls. NB 'don't break the yurt' is still a permitted heckle. ‘Joyous.’ (Sunday Times), ‘Legitimised lunacy.’ (Bruce Dessau), ‘Not always comedy.’ (ThreeWeeks). PWYW: buy a ticket in advance to guarantee entry or Pay What You Want on exit.