Al Murray delighted to bring the Pub Landlord to Blackburn

·5-min read
Al Murray brings his Gig for Victory tour to Blackburn
Al Murray brings his Gig for Victory tour to Blackburn

FOR more than 20 years the Pub Landlord has been regaling audiences with his views on every subject under the sun.

Now Al Murray is heading back out on the road with his great comic creation on a tour which comes to Blackburn’s King George’s Hall next Sunday. And he’s delighted to be able to have the opportunity.

“When all the Covid issues started I said to myself I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve had a good run, I’ll be all right. I thought that perhaps I’d grown up and I didn’t need an audience - you can see where this is going can’t you?

“Somehow I got through the first lockdown but that summer a friend of mine started putting on gigs in a pub garden and he asked me to do one. Basically I did half an hour and it blew my mind. It made me realise why I got into it in the first place. It also made me realise that the things I was taking for granted were the things I really missed when they were taken away from me for a while - that’s why it’s amazing to be back and I’ve realised how lucky I am.”

Al Murray prepares to become his alter ego, the Pub Landlord
Al Murray prepares to become his alter ego, the Pub Landlord

Al Murray prepares to become his alter ego, the Pub Landlord

The Pub Landlord is a force to be reckoned with, opinionated, controversial and - in his opinion - always in the right. But does Al actually like the comic monster he has created?

“I’m really fond of him,” he said. “As as a device what’s really brilliant about him is that I can talk about stuff without necessarily having to say what I think. There are times when he’ll say something and I’m thinking to myself ‘where on earth did that come from?’

“If I had to do me on stage I wouldn’t know where to start whereas doing him the margins are so well thrashed out I know how to feed a subject into him and if I can’t then that subject probably isn’t worth talking about anyway.”

Anyone heading along to the new Gig For Victory show can expect plenty of audience participation along the way.

“It means every night is necessarily different,” said Al. “The reason I do audience participation is to make sure it’s fresh every night. I wouldn’t be able to do a tour as long as this if the show was identical every evening. I’d go mad, I’d get bored.

“When you put a show together until you put it in front of an audience you really don’t know what will work. They will laugh at what they find funny, it’s a simple as that.

“When I do audience participation I am literally getting them to write the show - that’s the brilliant thing about stand up.

“When I talk to actors I ask them ‘you’re in a play, how do you know it’s going well?’ I need that immediacy and that audience reaction.”

Having stood for Parliament against Nigel Farrage, hosted his own TV show and played in front of hundreds of theatre audiences, does Al ever worry that some people might still think that the Pub Landlord is a real person and support all his views?

Al Murray as The Pub Landlord
Al Murray as The Pub Landlord

Al Murray as The Pub Landlord

“I think it happens now and then but I just think you can’t worry about that,” he said. “People believe all sorts of mad rubbish don’t they? The idea that they might misunderstand a comedian is probably quite low on the list of things for me to be worried about.

“When you start out and you’re a young comedian you think everyone should find what you are doing funny, then you realise that everyone has a different sense of humour and it is impossible to make everyone like the same thing – it can’t be done. The sooner you let that go, the easier life gets as a comedian.”

Gig For Victory is currently scheduled to run well into November.

“I’ve always been bad at achieving good work life balance, said Al. “For any touring comic it’s a difficult balance to strike. What we’ve decided to do is have two or three shows a week maximum so that I can be home and around.

“I’ve only done a couple of weeks or so but it’s been amazing. That’s why the tour appears to be going all year. I’ve finally learned that the way to be able to do other things is to spread it out more.

“I’m lucky that I can do that and I’ve got room for manoeuvre.

“Also during lockdown, as well as my close friends and relatives the people I was worried about were guys who work for me. They need the work so putting on a nice long tour makes sure they are all right too.”

Al Murray as The Pub Landlord
Al Murray as The Pub Landlord

Al Murray as The Pub Landlord

Unlike many comedians at the top of their game, Al doesn’t bother with a support act.

“I like the idea of a longer show, that’s why I do two halves around an interval,” he said. “If you can give yourself two hours you end up in a totally different place at the end; somewhere quite different to the cut and thrust you have to do at the start of set. Over a longer format you can seduce an audience and spend time working with them rather than mugging them.

“The real dynamic behind every successful comedy show is the audience and performer trusting each other. That relationship is what’s so important and it’s what we’ve all missed over the past couple of years.

“That’s why I appreciate being able to get back to doing this again. It’s brilliant.”

Al Murray, Gig for Victory, King George’s Hall, Blackburn, Sunday, April 10. Details from www.bwdvenues.com

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