Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 4 Apr
As Al Murray’s cabinet of characters expands from just the one well-developed incarnation as the Pub Landlord to a whole myriad of personae in his current ITV1 series Al Murray’s Multiple Personality, he notes that he never really considered doing comedy as anything other than a character.
‘In the beginning, I did a weird act, doing sound effects but it was more like a glorified pub trick. But I never wanted to go on stage as me.’ After all, there’s an element of a performance in every comedian’s act. ‘Stand-ups are always in a persona, they’re always lying, they didn’t just break up with their girlfriend. So when I stumbled across the landlord character I thought “this is the way to do it.”’
So he did, creating the type of Little Englander seen at the helm of public houses across the nation spouting his carefully-crafted playful digs at the continentals. In a spectacular case of fourth time lucky The Pub Landlord was nominated annually for the Perrier Award before finally winning in 1999 and in more recent years his faux-bigoted approach was used to great effect to ask impertinent questions of celebs on Al Murray’s Happy Hour chat show. On this latest tour, rest assured recession-worriers, he’s going to put the country straight. ‘I’m single-handedly promising to fix Broken Britain. To offer youngsters today five golden rules to live their lives by and I’m starting a truth virus about the 2012 Olympics that will sweep the country.’ Plus there’s a theory so poetic about air travel and its role in proving the existence of God it brings tears to the eye like chopping an onion. A British one, of course.