Comedy review: Alexei Sayle
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Alexei Sayle at The Stand Comedy Club III & IV (Venue 12), reviewed by Jay Richardson
[Alexei Sayle. Picture: PA]
This is literally trouser-splitting comedy, from an act who shared the tailor of his famously too-tight suits with the PG Tips chimps. Alexei Sayle has been previewing this show for many months, yet still reaches Edinburgh with his passion for stand-up aflame and very much evident, delivering a furiously funny and phenomenal performance for someone who has been out of the game for 17 years.
His wardrobe malfunction, which occurred during a routine highlighting his position in a Channel 4 poll of the top 100 comedians, capably answers his wife’s fear, howled from the back rows, that Sayle is “diluting the legacy!” Wobbling his buttocks in delight at having to improvise, it’s a joyously silly moment in an hour that settles some scores, yet which, despite his sweary excess, is generally wry, rueful and at the expense of this old Marxist firebrand turned voiceover artist for The Wild Bean Café adverts.
Even if Sayle has mellowed though, he’ll still stick the boot into Margaret Thatcher, hilariously reframing material from his 1980s heyday to feature Dizzee Rascal. Juiciest in a series of anecdotes that include encounters with Ed Miliband, Boris Johnson and Nelson Mandela, is a burying of the hatchet with his nemesis Ben Elton. Despite their differences and, indeed, The Wright Way, both retain a cruel sense of humour when the opportunity presents itself. Even the show’s more nostalgic moments, as Sayle recalls his pop single Ullo John! Gotta New Motor? and appearing in an ITV Miss Marple film, are inevitably undercut by the likes of his late, Soviet Union-worshipping mother, heckling him at a reading of his autobiography.
There’s more genuine and palpable anger in his comedy about the rehabilitation of Alastair Campbell on panel shows. Or on the creeping elitism that this bright, working-class Scouser sees as spreading from public-school dominance of parliament through acting to stand-up and shortly, even the most proletarian of sporting and culinary enterprises. If, as Sayle twinkles, he invented alternative comedy, it’s tremendous to have him back reminding us just how potent opinionated stand-up can be.
MORE INFO: Alexei Sayle is at The Stand
Originally published in The Scotsman