Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle was a comedy revolutionary, it is nearly 40 years since he and the first wave of alternative comedians such as Rik Mayall, the Allens, Tony and Keith et al hit a nation’s consciousness and dragged comedy, with its dinner jackets, bow ties, with casual racism and sexism kicking and screaming into a more enlightened era.  Alexei took a step back, became a novelist, and watched as the next generation of comics such as Michael McIntyre, John Bishop, and Peter Kay became stadium performing superstars.  Alexei takes a swipe at both genres tonight in a typically lively performance which showcases his ever-present anger about where we have come from and what we have become as a nation.

It does take a little while for Alexei to wind himself up into his performance.  Perhaps not surprising as he has done very little stand up for the last twenty years it takes a few minutes for vintage Alexei to kick in but quickly he is in his stride, with the trademark delivery, an aggressive Scouse verbal assault whilst bouncing around the stage.  He complains it’s a chore to put his socks on these days, however he is still such a lively jack in the box in front of an audience that it comes as a surprise when he reveals he is now 65 years old.  He is aging well, with no sign of doing it gracefully.  

Similarly, it’s also hard to believe he’s been married 44 years, as he reveals in his show, as the biggest heckle he receives all night comes from his wife!  She is sitting in the seats with the rest of us and berates him for the failure of one joke to raise a laugh.  Their subsequent exchange and her assertion ‘You delivered it wrong’ brought such a reaction that Alexei had to admit she got the loudest laugh of the night!

If, like me, you grew up with Alexei Sayle you will have no surprises about the material covered by the veteran performer.  Particular highlights included why the Black and White minstrels should have become Black Panthers and his reminisces about how he knew Lily Allen as a child.  If you get a rare chance to see his stage show grab it while you can.

Steve Heald – Writing is my passion, contact me on steve_j_heald@hotmail.com if you would like me to write for you.

Alexei Sayle
Edinburgh Fringe Festival