December 10, 2005

Review: Al Murray

Well tonight I went to see Al Murray at the Arts Centre with Jon and Lorna. It was an enjoyable evening (hard not to be with good company!), although in my opinion Al leaves a little to be desired in a comedy act. He was very funny, with his particular brand of jingoistic nationalism and politically incorrect humour, but it does wear very thin. For the first 20 minutes to half an hour it's side-splittingly funny, but then you begin to get bored and wonder where the variety is. For the whole first hour he basically went through the audience nearest him and ad-libbed on their responses to basic questions about themselves in a particularly insulting manner, which was very funny but a bit harsh at times. Still, almost all good comedy pushes the boundaries I suppose. The second half he introduced most of his material, still heavily on the audience participation. Whilst good material, it did just lack variety in style.

Overall my impression of Al was that he's a very good comic for a short space of time. He works best on half-hour TV shows and also I would imagine variety performances where he'd get a short slot to fill. As a sole stand-up act, he lacks the variety and material to keep an intellectual audience engaged for the duration.


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  1. Richard Herring

    "He was very funny, with his particular brand of jingoistic nationalism and politically incorrect humour"

    Ummmmm…when he does that he's mocking people who like jingoistic nationalism and politically incorrect humour – that's the whole joke.

    11 Dec 2005, 22:09

  2. Interesting point.
    And one I'd like to ask the man himself – cos I think only that way will we actually get an answer…

    xx

    13 Dec 2005, 10:17

  3. Ben Bakemore

    Warren Mitchell, who played Alf Garnett, used to get the same problem. People would come up to him in the street saying how his show was great because of how he had a go at "the darkies", he'd always say back to them "No you idiot – it's people like you I'm taking the piss out of

    13 Dec 2005, 13:38

  4. Ben Bakemore

    Actually, I saw Al Murray on some day time tv thing a few weeks ago and when someone who phoned in suggested he was a tory he was incredibly indignant in distancing himself from everything tory and was pretty pissed off that anyone had accused him of being one.

    13 Dec 2005, 13:40

  5. I don't think you have to be a tory to hate France…
    Interesting though…
    I think I might do some research.

    xx

    13 Dec 2005, 14:07

  6. I'm afraid to say it, but…

    Does Murray agree that the Pub Landlord appeals to two diametrically opposed camps of fans: those laughing at the Pub Landlord and his xenophobia; and those laughing with the Landlord at his victims?
    Yes, Murray is appalled by the fact that his shows attract some genuine bigots.
    "I try to make stupid ideas look stupid by presenting them stupidly, but sometimes people agree with the Landlord and cheer the xenophobia.
    "Then I have to put in spoiler lines like, 'Who do the European Union think they are trying to raise our standard of living?'"
    He complains that there's also a third audience group – a tiny but irascible minority – that doesn't get the joke at all and believes Murray is a bigot on tour.
    "People say my act is racist, homophobic, sexist and xenophobic.
    "I say to them: 'You can't have been listening.' I find it annoying because I'm careful. I never get to the point where I think, 'God, did I just say that?' Anyone can be outrageous and in the end it becomes tawdry."

    We can still agree with The Pub Landlord, though, right?!

    xx

    13 Dec 2005, 14:21

  7. When did I say that I agree with the sentiments expressed in his show, or that I considered him to genuinely be a bigot? A lot of his material I find too outrageous too! The amusing thing is that it's so anti-pc and outrageous; it's refreshing to hear it, in exactly the same way that it's great entertainment to watch Clarkson and co drive like maniacs around the Top Gear track, although I would never condone trying to do donuts and big powerslides on public roads. I will confess that a lot of his material I agree with the themes (anti-Europe, more national pride etc) but not in such a bigoted fashion as The Pub Landlord presents.

    Furthermore (re comment #4), it pisses me off that people associate the word "Tory" with the kind of bigoted character that is represented by people such as Al Murray in their acts. If you actually bothered to listen to most of us, you'd find that actually we don't want to deport everyone that isn't a 10th generation national, have another war with Europe etc… To suggest that all Tories are like that is like suggesting that every left of centre student is a Stalin in the making.

    13 Dec 2005, 20:06

  8. Shey Bassman

    ummmm… i think a point has been missed here.

    Al Murray is being ironic, Clarkson isn't.

    on the Tory thing, we have been listening to you. This hasn't helped.

    14 Dec 2005, 12:05

  9. Shey Bassman

    also, why does it always come back to top gear?

    14 Dec 2005, 12:06

  10. Clearly, you have not been listening to us.
    But then, nobody does these days, which is why everybody makes the link made in comment #4.

    Ah well.

    And it always has to come back to Top Gear because it kicks ass.

    xx

    14 Dec 2005, 12:53

  11. Shey Bassman

    Yes, you poor tories are so persecuted aren't you? Its a crying shame but there is just so much injustice in the world these days.

    >And it always has to come back to Top Gear because it kicks ass.

    lets just assume that this is irony.

    14 Dec 2005, 13:36

  12. On the contrary, I don't feel at all persecuted. Despised perhaps, but then again I don't much care. At the end of the day, it just justifies my reasoning to ignore and be thoroughly dismissive of people like you, because you only ever hear what you want to hear anyway. And you may not assume that there was any irony in the statement that Top Gear kicks ass; it's the best program on television. Previous to the new format at it's peak, viewing figures were at around 6 million. They halved when Clarkson left (does this tell you something? Perhaps that he is, in fact, good at his job?). I don't have viewing figures from the new show to hand, but I do know that it's audience is now beyond what it was at it's peak in the 90's. In fact, it's the most popular show on BBC2 I believe. If you don't like it, fair enough. Lots of people do, and I personally find it ridiculous that you consider yourself enough of an authority to tell me what is and isn't good television.

    14 Dec 2005, 13:59

  13. Dave Rees

    Of course no one listens to the tories! Everyone in the country had enough of you after all those years where you gave us the Poll tax, black wednesday, section 28, the complete devastation of communities across Scotland, Wales and the north of England thanks to pretty much the end of the manufacturing industry and that's not mentioning all the mistresses and prostitutes while espousing family values, the lies around the arms to Iraq scandal and of course JEFFREY ARCHER. We remember these things, and more, that's why people don't like the tories, even with a new pretty boy in charge.

    Oh, and another point. On fees, the tories at some point decided they were against tuition fees, forgetting who was first to try bringing them in. Yes, it was Thatcher, she tried it during the miners strike but realised she couldn't get away with it, certainly not while fighting the miners too.

    14 Dec 2005, 14:03

  14. Oh please.
    It's attitudes like that that really get to me.
    Grow up, will you?

    Politics is not about the past, it's about the present and the future. Don't even get me started on what Labour have managed to fuck up in the last 8.5 years. People like you make me so angry – I can feel my blood starting to boil.

    All politicians lie, all politicians make mistakes – it's the way the world works. Grow the fuck up and stop making out that everyone apart from the tories are whiter than white.

    For fuck's sake.

    14 Dec 2005, 15:53

  15. Shey Bassman

    Wow, chillax dude.

    I'm sure we'll all forget about what the tories did eventually. But 8 years just isn't long enough.

    14 Dec 2005, 18:39

  16. I would like to point out that we have had less than 8 years to forget all of New Labour's cock-ups…

    14 Dec 2005, 21:00

  17. Shey Bassman

    well, I was counting from the time they lost power. Should I start the tory-years-of-lies-betrayals-deceit-and-hypocracy-o-meter in 1979? then our counting systems would be in line.

    26 years simply isn't long enough to forget what the tories did.

    Well, I'll take the bait. I could do with a laugh: In your informed opinion what are New Labour's cock ups?
    I'll start you off…
    1. Minimum wage – how dare people be entitled to a bare minimum income and a standard of living fixed above the bread line – selfish gits! Those Labour MPs were just looking out for poor families, who is looking out for the rich guy? huh? who??

    14 Dec 2005, 22:14

  18. Stewart Lee

    I don't see what all the fuss is about. I think this poor student clearly understood Al Murray 100%

    Ahhh!!

    14 Dec 2005, 22:28

  19. Richard Herring

    No – not ahhh! This is not an aaah situation. You can't just go round saying ahhh!

    14 Dec 2005, 22:42

  20. Sure I'll list some of New Labour's cock-ups (Lorna et all are most welcome to add those that have momentarily slipped my mind).

    It's interesting that you bring up the subject of the minimum wage. It's flawed on a number of points – for a start, the cost of living in the UK is extremely variable dependent on geographical location. Whilst it might be possible to live off the minimum wage in poorer areas of the country, anyone who reckons that the minimum wage helps alleviate poverty in London is clearly having a laugh. There are also huge negative effects of the minimum wage, including effects on SME's, limiting the employment of low wage earners, increasing costs to the consumer, reducing incentive for low skilled workers to gain skills. However, I'm not going to go into a detailed social science debate here; in any case I don't pretend to really have a huge knowledge of the subject. I am merely aware of the fact that it's not a universally supported idea. I am personally undecided as to if it's a good thing or not, in case you're wondering.

    New Labour's cock-ups? Well look at the endless list of people that have proved that corruption is far from the preserve of the Tories – since you mentioned Archer, with New Labour we've had the Hindujas, Berine Ecclestone, Mandelson (two or three times?), Blunkett (multiple times as well), Jo Moore I think her name was (the press secretary with the "good day to bury bad news), Stephen Byers. Then there's the political/public problems that can't be pinned to any one individual – the Iraq dossier, vast increase in stealth taxes and public spending, ballooning Civil Service figures, continued rapid deterioration of the transport network, inability to fix problems with the health service and education (many of these are New Labour priorities and manifesto points I hasten to add), Top Up Fees…. The amazing thing is that none of this seems to have stuck particularly well to those responsible. I guess it's just a case of hearing what you want to, as always…

    14 Dec 2005, 23:01

  21. Dave Rees

    Dude, I'm no fan of new labour either, but Archer trumps ANY of those lot, at least none of them have been put in prison for lying under oath.

    I don't think you can go blaming transport problems on Labour, well only in so far as they haven't had the balls to reverse the mess the tories made of this countries transport situation.

    You're on shaky ground bringing Iraq into it too, you know full well the tories would have done exactly the same.

    I think you tories are just jealous that Blair is able to get away with stuff you could only dream about.

    14 Dec 2005, 23:10

  22. Dave Rees

    sorry, mistake there – should be country's not countries.

    14 Dec 2005, 23:11

  23. Wil Wheaton

    "However, I'm not going to go into a detailed social science debate here"

    Aww man – wesley crusher would be disappointed in you!

    14 Dec 2005, 23:21

  24. Shey Bassman

    I stand corrected. In order for SMEs etc. to earn a decent living, some people will just have to live below the poverty line. The lazy gits should have gone to university rather than sit around bumming money from the state and siring a string of illegitimate kids. Right? Right? Are ya with me!
    Bo Ya!

    14 Dec 2005, 23:21

  25. I hasten to point out that SMEs employ a large section of the workforce. If they don't turn a profit, they go bankrupt. If they go bankrupt, everyone employed by them is out of a job. It's therefore in the interests of those employed by it that a company is profitable, no?

    I don't exclusively blame transport problems on Labour, however by the same token that they are not entirely responsibly nor are they free of guilt. The argument that "it's all the Tories fault" doesn't really hold water now that they've been in power for 8 years – they've had enough time to do something about it, although I admit that a full cure isn't feasable in this timeframe. Yes the Tories made a mess of railways and buses etc, but they haven't improved to my knowledge. And I can guarantee you that in the last 8 years congestion has gotten much worse. The point is, Labour should have done something about it by now if they want the problems to not be pinned at their doorstep. It's been one of their responsibilities for 8 years after all.

    As for Iraq – exactly what would we have done the same? People struggle to make a distinction here between what most Tories do and don't believe in. I, like many, believe that the war was just and called for. However, I think the handling of it was utterly atrocious and the case for war was very pooly made even to the point where the evidence we were presented with was basically a load of highly questionable intelligence and an American student's plagiarised work. Call me a naieve optimist, but I don't think that the Tory shadow cabinet would have handled the situation in such a bad way.

    14 Dec 2005, 23:46

  26. Dave Rees

    so on Iraq what you're saying is that the tories would have made the same stupid decision to fuck up the middle east but they would have come up with some better lies to justify it. Is that because they have more practice at lying than Labour?

    You've said many people believe the war was just and called for, but actually there weren't that many people who did believe that, and most of those that did believe it don't believe it now.

    14 Dec 2005, 23:50

  27. Well we can argue about whether it was the right decision or not until the cows come home. I think that the evidence suggests that there was a good case for war – repeated refusal to obey resolution 1441, not answering questions on known weapons stocks, inspectors having to play hide and seek… Then there's the human rights abuse etc etc. We left the place in a mess in 1991 and in my opinion we did the right thing to go back and finish what was started a long time ago by America tampering with the political system through supporting one side over another. There was no need to lie to make the case – what I've said above is all basic fact and easily proven. I agree that support for the Iraq war has fallen, but not everything that is right/best is popular at the time. Again as naieve as you might think me, I do believe that Iraq's future is much brighter for it's people with the removal of Saddam Hussein, however messy it may be right now with fundamentalists continuing to wreak havoc. I remain firm in my conviction that the vast majority of Arabs want a not so dissimilar peaceful and accepting way of life to the western world; they've just not yet been given a chance to live such a life. If you look at the more moderate states in the middle east (such as Jordan), I think the evidence is there that such change is possible.

    15 Dec 2005, 00:43

  28. Shey Bassman

    But you dont care about human rights. You dont think that people are entitled to a basic standard of living.

    15 Dec 2005, 01:34

  29. Shey Bassman

    I just re-read the original post.

    This bit is pure gold…
    "he lacks the variety and material to keep an intellectual audience engaged for the duration."
    …fantastic. Whatever your next post/point is, I'm sure it will only underline what it is I find funny about the above quote.

    15 Dec 2005, 01:36

  30. If you could find anything substantial to backup comment #28, I'd be surprised. Please kindly refrain from making such slanderous accusations in future unless you have evidence to support them.

    15 Dec 2005, 09:27

  31. Shey Bassman

    cite: Your issues with the minimum wage.

    #28 is a reference to that, do you see? The give-away is the qualifier "You dont think that people are entitled to a basic standard of living."
    What I've done here is point out (via the time honoured internet-debtate technique of abstraction and hyperbole) that you seam concerned about peoples basic human rights one minute but then dont care if they're are forced to work for £2 an hour the next.
    I assumed this might be clear.

    15 Dec 2005, 10:10

  32. Shey Bassman

    The minimum wage, you see, is a way to protect peoples basic rights.

    Your arguments are basically the same as those previously employed by the tories – however, millions of small businesses DIDN'T go to the wall when in was introduced, the economy didn't fall apart. You were all wrong.
    It should be possible to turn a profit with out exploiting people, and it is.
    I realise you dont care if some people are exploited and oppressed by their employers*, and I can understand that. I mean its not like they're anyone important, right?

    *this is basicly the link between your stance on minimum wage and your stance on human rights that I was making in #29. If that clears it up for you.

    15 Dec 2005, 10:16

  33. Shey Bassman

    One more thing: "...unless you have evidence to support them."

    Evidence? Evidence? Would this be like the "evidence" you present in your post on global warming? Because if thats the kind of evidence you want. I can pull it out of my bum, mate.

    15 Dec 2005, 10:18

  34. Oh dear.
    What a total imbicile you are.

    Unless anybody having a dig at Siggy/the tories on this thread can come up with any kind of decent argument, backed up with facts rather than sensationalist bollocks, I suggest you just give up now, because you are just making yourself look stupid.

    Anyone with a brain can read through this and realise that the only person talking sense in this little argument is Siggy. Unfortunately, the majority of the country seem to be like our friend Mr Bassman here, and unable to punctuate their sentences correctly, let alone elect a suitable Government.

    This is why I want to emigrate. People like you. However, I won't, because I want this country to be turned around, and I will be here with my vote in 2009 to hopefully help that happen.

    15 Dec 2005, 10:28

  35. Dave Rees

    No Shey, I think he wants evidence more like that stuff for why we should invade Iraq.

    I liked your use of the "we can argue about that til the cows come home" argument, it's a good one that.

    15 Dec 2005, 10:31

  36. Shey Bassman

    If you could find anything substantial to backup comment #34, I'd be surprised. Please kindly refrain from making such slanderous accusations in future unless you have evidence to support them.

    15 Dec 2005, 10:31

  37. Dave Rees

    "and unable to punctuate their sentences correctly"

    you know someone is beaten when they resort to insulting their opponents grammar

    it's the equivalent of doing the stirring move in a dance off after someone has blown you away with some sweet body popping.

    15 Dec 2005, 11:08

  38. Right.
    Exactly what do you want me to say Shey? What did I say that needs "backing up"? Don't try and sound clever by repeating what Siggy has said when it doesn't apply in the same way.

    And Dave, I do not consider myself beaten at all – it saddens me that people do not know how to spell, or use correct grammar, anymore. Why should I not take pride in the language of the country I live in? Oh I'm sorry – I'm not meant to take pride am I? That's what New Labour are supposed to do that we are apparently trying to destroy.

    My mistake. I apologise.

    Incidentally, Dave, that sentence should have been "You know someone is beaten when they resort to insulting their opponents' grammar."
    Kindly do not leave out apostrophes. Or misplace them. It makes you look stupid.

    15 Dec 2005, 12:14

  39. Dave Rees

    language is a very fluid and changing thing, if you studied linguistics like I do you'd realise that.

    15 Dec 2005, 12:17

  40. I am aware of that.
    I am also aware that people like Stephen Fry get very annoyed when people harp on about "fewer" vs "less" etc.
    However, I do not think there is any excuse for misplacing things like apostrophes – they change the entire meaning of sentences.

    I don't think "language is fluid" is a good excuse for people being lazy.

    xx

    15 Dec 2005, 12:29

  41. Dave Rees

    yeah, but i did it on purpose knowing you'd get all pedantic just to make you look pedantic -so HA! Score another one to the Rees boy!

    15 Dec 2005, 12:35

  42. Dave Rees

    if were on about problem's with punctuation and grammar, in comment 34 youve called someone an imbicile, but youve' spelt imbicile wrong, its' got a i in the middle, not a e like your claiming.

    15 Dec 2005, 12:38

  43. Touche. Very good :P
    …and don't get me started on how many mistakes there are in that last comment…

    15 Dec 2005, 13:31

  44. Dave Rees

    are there a lot – really? I would never have thought that!

    15 Dec 2005, 13:47

  45. Sarcasm.
    Hmm.

    I would say "the lowest form of wit" but my Dad told me a great comeback which is "...usually said by those who are no good at it…"

    xx

    15 Dec 2005, 16:07

  46. Dave Rees

    Well we knew you werent' any good at sarcasm, or irony for that matter, thats what started this whole thing, the complete lack of ability to appreciate the simplest' of comedy tool's. What you could do before you next see an comedian is' send them a email beforehand asking them to stamp they're foot or something every time they employ the comedy tool of irony.

    15 Dec 2005, 17:30

  47. It is evident from comments #31, 32 and 33 that Shey doesn't seem to grasp the concept of critical thinking very well, and furthermore seems to not be particularly interested in adhering to them and instead engage in ad hominem and denying the antecedent in their arguments. I therefore am not going to bother responding to Shey's posts until they learn some basic debating skills/manners and learn to stick to them. And just so as you know Mr Rees, both Lorna and I have a very good grasp of sarcasm and irony.

    Might I just add that it never ceases to amuse me how some people seem to enjoy trying to poke my friends and I on this blog in such a fashion. I don't know exactly what you're trying to prove. I don't understand why you feel that time wasting in this manner is at all enjoyable or productive. All you're doing is broadcasting to the world (presumably under false identities) that you don't know how to debate or use English correctly, have a poor grasp of the subjects you're trying to debate about, and seem extremely interested in just trying to anger people as opposed to forming any form of constructive argument. The irony is that you are in fact providing me with much needed relaxation and therapy – yes I respond because it's my blog, but also because I just enjoy debating and like the challenge of running circles around you, however easy and non-challenging that actually proves to be. Really, open your eyes to what you're wasting your time with here, and go do something more productive with your time than fail repeatedly to get a reaction. It's pathetic and I pity you.

    15 Dec 2005, 22:45

  48. Dave Rees

    Q'E,D;

    15 Dec 2005, 23:00

  49. Steve Lowe

    You've definitely done them in chris.

    You've taken on the seemingly unbeatable russian monster drago to avenge the death of your friend apollo creed. Actually, no, now I come to think about it, that's Rocky IV

    16 Dec 2005, 00:08


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