IT’S time, gentlemen, please, to book your tickets for one of the most popular live comedy acts of the moment.
For Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, will be pulling pints and dispensing his unique brand of saloon-bar philosophy at King George’s Hall, Blackburn, on Friday, February 27.
After a couple of years locked away in the TV studio and tapping away at his laptop, the Landlord is embarking this month on his “Beautiful British Tour.”
It marks a very welcome return for the man who puts the “Great” back into Great Britain.
The Landlord, the bald, narrow-minded Little Englander who rails against all things that are “not normal” (especially the French), is an electrifying live act.
Critics have been lavishing praise on his act for many years. The Times calls him “the most consistently exciting live comedian in the land for years,” while The Daily Telegraph says “no other comedian working on the live circuit in Britain today offers such a cast-iron guarantee of start-to-finish mirth.”
Al is unwinding before a warm-up gig at a West London pub and fans will be delighted to learn that he is as warm and funny off stage as he is on it.
Looking relaxed, he begins by explaining why his ranting alter ego has become quite so popular.
The comic reckons the Landlord resonates with everyone: “He’s a universal figure. Everyone can relate to him, if only because he spills beer and he spouts garbage, and everyone knows someone like that!”
Al, whose last DVD “…And Another Thing” shifted 200,000 copies, goes on to underline how much he is relishing his return to the live stage. “There is nothing like the buzz you get from a live audience,” he says.
“The audience has come along to see me, so we get off on the right foot, and it just builds from there.
“The other thing I like about live comedy is that it’s perfectible, in a way that television never is.
“If you’re doing 53 gigs in a row, you can constantly fine-tune stuff.”
Above all, Al adores the opportunity that stand-up affords him to improvise.
“Improvisation means that every night is different. You can go off on a tangent without having an autocue saying ‘get on with it’.
So what subjects will the Landlord be pontificating about on his “Beautiful British Tour”?
“The show is about broken Britain,” reveals the comic. “Who broke Britain? And what are we going to do to fix it?
“At the end, the Landlord applies his Five Golden Rules to mend Britain.”
The Landlord says he will also be reflecting on people’s anger about the current financial crisis. “People are genuinely furious about that,” observes Al, who recently headlined to acclaim on BBC1’s Live at the Apollo. “Bankers have lost our money, and now we’re having to use our money to bail them out!”
During the show, the Landlord will also be proving that God exists and fulminating about youth crime.
Al is a former winner of the coveted Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival. And the Pub Landlord is now one of our best loved comedy characters.
He has become so big, he can sell out arenas up and down the land. But Al remains appealingly modest about the immense success he has had as his buffoonish, loud-mouthed alter ego.
“It never ceases to amaze me,” he almost whistles in astonishment. “When I started doing the Landlord more than a decade ago, I never thought he’d have this kind of legs.
“I never thought he’d end up with an ITV1 talk show and playing at the O2 Arena.
“Sometimes I think, ‘I must have covered everything now.’ And I know that when I can’t come up with new stuff for him anymore, that will be the time to stop.
“But so far he’s proved really durable. He strikes a chord because everyone knows an idiot and everyone’s been in a pub!”
l Catch Al Murray at King George’s Hall, Blackburn, on Friday, February 27. For tickets call box office on 0844 8471664.