Thursday 15 January 2015

Al Murray: Pub bore politics.

Al Murray is planning to stand in Thanet South to somehow help ensure Nigel Farage does not become an MP.  The labour activist comedian is hoping to draw UKIP supporters to his parody UKIP party, and so ensure freedom for Kent from right wingers by getting the Tories elected.

He took out a full page advert in a newspaper to publicise this fact. Not a national paper, mind. Nor a local coastal town, Kent newspaper. But a london free paper. So rather destroying any credibility he might have had and revealing the self-publicity that is behind the choice. 

Do oddballs and fanatics enliven the UK's dull election process? Do comedians and celebs joining in the political debate help to encourage voters to take an interest? Why are so many comedians left wing? 

I don't care.. What I do care about is Al Murray ruined my favourite program.

Why is Al Murray so bone achingly unfunny ? He's not even comical on a Lenny Henry level. At least Henry can front a show. Al Murray has no such talent. He is just dreadful. Existing in that Two pints of larger zone , where a program manages to run for years and years despite no one you ever meet having ever watched it.

I used to listen to a comedy-topical-news program on Sunday morning on radio 5. It was excellent. Chris Addison, the flowery shirted, skinny, specky one on Mock the Week. The junior Spad on the thick of it..You know the one.Comedian and actor. 7-Day Sunday its called.
The show, which had a team of sidekicks on it, and guests too .. Was a great show.
So much so that if I missed it I would hunt it out on iplayer. Something I never do for TV, never mind the poor cousin that is radio.
Then Mr Addison left, and the comedian, Al Murray, pub landlord took over.

Same format. Same ideas. Many of the same team. And it was awful. 

All the free flowing banter now sounded forced. Or was just absent. A show that I would have held up as an example of the best of British comedy was now so bad, that I no longer listened to it. In fact, if it  was on when I was in the car, I would now turn it off.

And not just because of his Labour politics.Lefty comedians are by the best comedians.  Stuart Lee is amazing. Mark Steel,  Eddie Izzard, Alexi Sayle all would merit a place in the Quango best comedians of the 20th century awards.

But Al Murray, even as a parody of UKIP Isn't funny. He wasn't funny doing this 'traditional Ukipper routine, when he toured with it many years ago..Even before there was a UKIP. . He is a lot less funny 20 years on. I can only guess that he is hoping to sign a new BBC contract or something. Hopefully they won't sign him for another 25 year stint as the resident comedian without portfolio.

So .. if it isn't already clear, I do not like the comedy of Mr Murray. This stupid stunt isn't even new. Lefty comedians have been standing in unwinnable seats for years.  Rufus Hound ran for the Liberals in London. Eddie Izzard..{you can't now stop him actually running somewhere for something}.  John O'Farrell, the last Tony Blair supporter left in Britain, stood in the 2013 by election in Eastleigh,. 
The main difference there being John O'Farrell is actually funny.
So Al Murray is not only unamusing. He is unoriginal too.


K said...

Honestly I think that British comedy in general is in pretty bad straits. It's all the same highly paid 25-55 year old rich white guys travelling in the same circles doing tours, panel shows, books, DVDs, etc. They all think they're edgy but frankly I can't tell them apart anymore.

Never thought I'd be the one complaining about "rich white guys".

Sackerson said...

Perhaps he'll split the Labour vote.

Budgie said...

The BBC seems to be the main sponsor of the boring, "I'm-so-edgy", self-styled lefty, self-claimed comic. I gave up when, years ago, they started down the track of "Fatcher!!! Handbags!!!!! Hur hur hur". One of the many reasons the BBC should be sold off as pay-to-view.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Stewart Lee funny? Have you ever seen him live? Watching him lecture us poor sods in the audience for 15 minutes at a charity benefit gig about 10 years back felt like 3 hours. The smuggest most tedious unfunny bastard it has ever been my misfortune to endure. His entire act consisted of complaints against other comedians he didn't like with not one actual joke. Not one. Imagine that. A "comedian" with no jokes, not even one funny observation. He was lucky not to get lynched.

Anonymous said...

I agree British comedy is in a bad state.

However, my eyes have been opened by the Charlie Hebdo atrocity.

British comedians are utterly PC. All their targets are PC. Even Frankie Boyle, in his own way, is PC.

Private Eye is PC too.

There is nothign edgy, no one will really try to be funny and offensive.

IN a refelction of politics, the big issues go unremarked and the small issues are made to seem funny.

As a result our comedy is sterile and valueless. Lots of gags about being in a couple etc - basically variants of 'my wife' and other observational hilarity.

Bill Quango MP said...

K .. The BBC like to 'groom' comedians for stardom. They are looking for the next Stephen Fry signing. Hence Kevin Bishop and Michael McIntyre. Both good. But both very much 'family' comedians, so quite mild.

Frankie Boyle, the Charlie Hebdo of uk comedy, has to go to C4 to say his piece.

I think other channels, Sky and Channel 4, have, generally, better comedians with better formats. BBC is very tires. Mock the week is a decade old. HIGNFY is what? 30 years old?

I should think there are zero plans for an 'election special' on a spitting image/yes we Canberra format.
With CGI spitting image style, exaggerated caricature could be quite good and cheap to do.

But no appetite. So C4 will do something instead

Sackerson:You know, I expect that is exactly what will happen. Kippers aren't likely to vote for a lampoon of Kippery, are they?

Budgie: Fatcher , handbags..Yep..they did that for years and years.
Its Farage now - And he certainly provides the ammo to be lampooned. But endlessly ? By everyone..makes it all a bit Fatcher /handbags again.
{And drugs -- in the 80's it was always how many pints and how many lines they had done backstage..}

Seb W. I went to see his Carpet World show {available on catchup now}
Icertainly not his best show - quite a long period of buildup, to lead tothe payoff line line..too long really. But some of it was so good I remember thinking 'I will never be good enough to write a joke like that..Its sooo brilliant and clever and sharp.."

Mrs Quango who went with me thought "He's shite"

Horses for courses.

But I think we can all agree Al Murray is not now, nor ever has been ,very funny.

hovis said...

My take on this is that by this move Murray has shown he doesnt understand why he has been popular. Imo the Pub Landlord was generally as it had warmth for the object of the parody, but also because ceratin items were culturally resonant and even agreeable at some level. By doing this Murray has shown he is nothing but a sneering posh boy who holds his audience in contempt. I think he has damaged the character's brand - it was looking jaded as it was.

Cant agree Eddie Izzard was never funny, saw him before he was famous doing the small club circuit in the 90's, not funny then not funny now. The people who were on the bill with with him and remain unknowns were 20 times funnier.

Lee, Addison, O'Farrell all metropolitan w*nkers.

Mark Thomas isnt belly laugh funny but I have alot of time for him.

SOmeone who did challenge and was funny was the ever fabulous Chris Morris, but that's why his career was crushed.

hovis said...

Ok can't string a sentence together today - but you get my drift

Bill Quango MP said...

We do.
Agree with Chris Morris. Often left off the menu, despite being the best thing on it.

I saw Eddie izzard many many times in the Comedy store and Camden Lock and such.
Thought he was very good. Top class.

And Alan Carr. Chatty man, before he became ITVs Graham Norton.
he was good too.

All time best ?

probably Jerry Seinfeld at the O2.
Though Newman and Badeil were good.

Anonymous said...

Some of you need to go see Jerry Sadowitz(Comedian. Magician. Psychopath). Frankie Boyle is a rather diluted version...

You're not going to get good, edgy, comedy on TV as it's usually lowest common denominator stuff to sell to the widest audience.

Plenty of gold in various comedy clubs, people who'll never get near a TV show, but are bloody funny *and* edgy.

hovis said...

Anon: I'd forgotten Sadowitz, raw and edgy indeed - recently a meme on social media of him calling out Saville as paedo in one of his routines when he first came to promience (and got some TV time).

BE said...

Why does anyone care who is "edgy" or "PC"? Just because it's on telly, doesn't mean you have to take any notice of it. See also: Twitter.

There is no censorship, legal or otherwise, preventing a UK version of Charlie. More important is that nobody would buy it.

Who cares if Al Murry is a lefty? Don't vote for him if you don't agree with his antics.

Anonymous said...

@hovis - seen him a few times, and his Savile/paedo sketch in the 80's pretty much meant the beeb kept an arms length. He's a bit of an awkward git too which hasn't helped his career any, which given he's not only a fine comedian but one of the best close-up and card magicians on the planet, is a real pity.

When I saw him a few months after Saviles death it was a bit like taking a shower in venom whilst being tickled.

Mark Thomas is another good one - disagree with much (well, most) of his politics, but he can be bloody funny

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon: I'm putting Mark Thomas in the Al Murray camp.

I can't recall ever laughing at anything he said.
And he used to be a comedy store regular.

Electro-Kevin said...

If you're an approved performer on the BBC then you're not edgy but are, in fact, a conformist.

Al Murray's gift was that we all thought he'd slipped past the BBC - that his act wasn't, in fact, ironic but he had fooled them into thinking so.

Rather like Top Gear he was popular because he was pushing against the BBC and PC boundaries. A true rebel.

Well he wasn't. He was yet another posh Leftie lined up to take the piss out of the loathed (by the Left) white working class.

Within a week of the Charlie Hebdo shootings brave boy Murray is setting out his stall against the real danger in our midst - the real nutters and murderers and head choppers... UKIP !

"They are the ones who will divide our country !" Never mind that 'diversity' is almost exclusively a Leftist aim.

Well I hope he's buggered his career as the Pub Landlord - whereas once I might have paid for tickets to see his show (if it was passing by) I certainly won't now. Those who liked the Pub Landlord won't like Al Murray now that they know who he really is.

And he rather proves the point that UKIP aren't dangerous and that they aren't nutters - otherwise he wouldn't dare take the piss out of them.

There are far more current targets that the truly brave and 'edgy' commedian could have a dig at.

(I hope the Daily Mail is stuffed for similar reasons.)

Electro-Kevin said...

Funniest people I've seen are small timers:

Doc Cox (Ivor Biggun) last seen on That's Life.

David Copperfield from Three of a Kind (Tracy Ulman, Lenny Henry)

Electro-Kevin said...

BE - Al Murray is after the Labour voters in the Thanet Sth constituency. His aim is to damage Farage, revive his career and become a hero among his peer group.

It is quite a serious matter and quite contemptible of the feelings of people he already makes his fortune taking the piss out of.

Can't he just let democracy take its course and allow Farage to be challenged by serious contenders ?

As I have said before it is not UKIP who are the divisive or hysterical ones in Britain today.

It is the ones who won't even tolerate gentle mockery - even the reporting of gentle mockery can result in staff at the news agency (the BBC) being warned to go incognito.

John in Cheshire said...

Why is there such an obsession with comedy; not specifically here, but in the entertainment world in general? It is placed completely out of proportion to its importance. I have been listening to radio4extra for years-since its inception as radio 7 and it epitomises everything that is wrong with entertainment, particularly provided by the bbc. There is a surfeit of stuff labeled as comedy and there far too many female presenters introducing feminised tripe. The first few years of radio 7 were wonderful and I'm sure the station was run on a shoestring budget. Now there are more presenters than programmes, everything appears to be repeated 3 times in every 24hours and all content is grounded in girly emotions rather than good old male action and adventure stories.

DtP said...

I'm not sure this thread would be complete without Marcus Brigstock and Stephen K Amos who I would pay money not to see ever again.

CityUnslicker said...

Louis Theroux is interesting. Very right on, yet also entertaining?

About the only one I can think of. Jimmy Carr is very funny live - agree he tests few real boundaries though.

Anonymous said...

"There is no censorship, legal or otherwise, preventing a UK version of Charlie"

That lady newsagent in Cheltenham who was going to sell the magazine, and who was widely featured on the news, turned out on the day not to be selling it after all, and didn't want to talk about it. Obviously something happened to change her mind.