Where time has dulled the wit or the vigour of other stalwarts of the comedy circuit, Al Murray’s routines remain as fresh and lively as the most expertly poured pint.
Performing at a sold-out Lowry Theatre in Salford on Sunday night, the Pub Landlord was as boisterous and well-lubricated as ever, expertly mixing catchphrases, new material and the best audience-interaction in the business, over the course of a bumper 150 minute set.
Of course, Al has a major advantage over many of his rivals. His material is written for him every time he tunes into the news. And the news right now is very interesting indeed. To use the words of the big man himself, ‘Britain is fucked’.
Saying this, to trivialise Murray’s achievements in this way is to do him a disservice – his ‘common-sense’ solutions to problems such as IS, global economics, Scotland and UKIP are nothing short of genius.
Now that his publican persona has been fine-tuned to perfection however, one gets the impression that the Oxford graduate must be licking his lips whenever some new tragedy befalls our country.
However, as usual Murray’s actual routines were very much secondary to his unmatchable rapport with the audience.
Amongst this Salford vintage was retired police officer Ken, whom the veteran comic quickly decided was both deaf and incompetent.
Over the course of the two and a half hour gig, Ken must have been mentioned at least once every five minutes, usually to be reminded that he was a ‘useless, old wanker’.
Elsewhere, Big Al the IT technician – ‘are you the actual firewall? Nothing’s getting past you!’ – and Murray’s ‘long-lost son’ Paul were regularly heckled, whilst the alluring Jade had the King of Beer feeling lustful, until she revealed the names of her two children.
To which he replied: “Summer and Airey? You, love, are the reason why Britain is broken.”
From the first ‘all hail to the ale’, to the final ‘please take your glasses back to the bar’, this was Al Murray on familiarly inspired form.
If his performance at The Lowry is anything to go by, The Pub Landlord is still one of the premier figures in British comedy.
If only his ‘common-sense solutions’ were as practicable as they are hilarious, Britain may not remain as broken for long.
Image courtesy of Isabelle Adam, with thanks.