For a period, beginning in the 1980s, catchphrases in comedy were all the rage. Yet they weren’t simply catchphrases. They were catchphrases that parodied the comedy stylings of an earlier age; catchphrases done in a sardonic way and aware of the banality of this old comedic trope. They became badges of principal and perhaps even anti-catchphrases.

At times back then, it could be hard to spot the difference between the traditional and alternative forms of comedy. The alternative could be as offensive as anything from the 1970s yet done in a self-aware way that was meant to excuse its excess. Whereas Sid James would previously leer at a woman and make gurgling noises in his throat, Rik Mayall would leer but then start caressing himself so that the joke was turned on him. Was that progress or plus ca change? It was difficult to tell.