LIVE: AL MURRAY, Perth, 12 October, 2015
The Astor Theatre, Monday, 12 October, 2015
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Australia was in for a treat as Al Murray brought his Pub Landlord character Down Under for his first complete national tour. Riffing on a staggering array of topics and showing incredible recall for his audience targets (more on that shortly) ‘The Guv’nor’ made sure the packed house left with aching sides after a tour-de-force of comedy genius.
Murray takes the stage triumphantly from the start, raising his pint glass in cheers repeatedly, cheekily splashing beer over the front rows, before cracking few topical gags about the profusion of bald people in our city, and how anyone can become Prime Minister of Australia (we certainly go through a few.)
The Guv character has softened since the days of his Time, Gentlemen, Please TV series of a dozen or so years ago, but he still sports many of the character traits that introduced him to our country (and, indeed, is about the only of Murray’s many shows to show on free-to-air TV here, to the best of my reckoning.)
The Guv’s staunch pro-British parochialism comes to the fore often (“we made you – never forget”), and he’s quick to declare “I’m here to help – we’re gonna come up with a recipe how to fix this beautiful country,” but the real fun begins when he starts quizzing the first few rows.
Most of the first half is ad-libbed from here on in, ripping into couples and families in all directions, shredding them up hilariously and – of course – they play along with the fun. There’s as many ex-pat Brits as to be expected, a couple of students (one here with his girlfriend and her parents cops a lot of fun flak), and various council, education and health workers are toyed with like a cat playing with a dozen mice at the same time, crossing the streams of each interaction until they are all a pivotal part of the show. You might think, “that’s what I do with my mates every Friday night,” but never under-estimate how masterful it is to pull off with eight different groups of people in front of 400 more. And all the while comedy-flirting with Chelsea in the front row.
Our own Boy From Bassendean does not escape the riffing: oh no. Murray talks about the Rules Of Lawful Flirting now required for English showbiz people – ROLF for short. Remarkably subtle comedy where many others would have been far more crass. Another satirical segment about Muslims showcases how far and wide our bogan culture of ignorance has been noticed.
Murray’s second half is delivered more like a monologue, though there are repeated references to the audience members he talked with in Round One. We learn that God is British (“No earthquakes – you don’t shit on your own doorstep”), dogs speak English (say ‘arretez vouz’ and nothing happens, say ‘sit’ and they sit) and he ties up global finance with a lengthy and hilarious series of impersonations of British, German, Tokyo and American stock traders.
Murray’s is a hilarious show, propelled by his sharp and incisive mind, and a treat to behold.
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