Al Murray – Live

5 Oct

Theatre Royal, Brighton: Sunday September 30 2012

Al Murray’s been peddling his pub landlord persona for the best part of 20 years. And it showed.

He’s got a finely honed, accomplished routine in place, and there’s about as much chance of him tinkering with it as there is of him opening a wine bar in France.

Maybe someone should tell him it was that kind of complacency that did for his beloved empire.

Murray’s problem, like Alf Garnett, is that the character is a pastiche so polished that half the time you fear a chunky swathe of the audience is laughing with him, not at him.

It’s an unease compounded by his tendency to either test the audience or pander to it (it can be hard to tell at times) – with his line about not being scared of homosexuals, just intolerant to them, “like dairy”, being a case in point.

As ever, his set was light on substance. The premise of curing the nation of all its ills was whittled down to parents telling kids they can’t sing and pleading with women to sack off the vajazzles.

But to give him his dues, it was packed with laughter. Murray is the master of wringing every last giggle out of the flimsiest material, and his interaction with the audience was second to none, especially when cutting through preposterous job titles. “I’m an optical consultant,” said one member of the audience, until Murray slapped him down, telling him his job was to sell glasses.

If only there were more cases when it obvious who was having the last laugh.

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