Al Murray
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interview: Al Murray, comedian
Carla Gray
26 November 2010

It's time to raise your glasses in celebration - The Pub Landlord is back at the Edinburgh Playhouse tomorrow, in all his maroon-blazered, tongue-in-cheek glory. The Barrel Of Fun Tour is the latest offering from comedian Al Murray and focuses, fittingly given publicans' traditional part-time role of agony aunt to their customers, on all the things we worry about.

Although the Guv initially struggles to find fault with the Taliban "they don't like Americans, they believe women should do what they're told", he eventually declares them the enemy as they "don't like beer and they don't like pork scratchings". The Pope also gets a mention, perhaps unsurprisingly given Murray's public opposition to his state-funded visit earlier this year.

While it may seem that the show's material is rather heavy for a comedy gig, Murray has included plenty of other content to keep it light-hearted. As well as a nagging concern about erectile dysfunction, the Guv is also proposing to give ginger-haired people back their rights in his oft-utilised sense of reasoning that they were here first. "They're the British Aborigines and need to be left alone," says Murray. "I have a friend who's ginger and she's completely fed up with lazy jokes about her hair colour."

The Landlord's ability to cheekily explore themes of xenophobia and sexism alongside historical references that allude to Murray's Oxford-educated background, has ensured the character's continued popularity in the hearts of audiences both here and overseas.

But for Murray, who first created the Pub Landlord 16 years ago while supporting fellow comedian Harry Hill, the act is "simply bar-talk. It's just pub bollocks. It's not Descartes or Kant." "The great thing about the Landlord," he continues, "is that he may start off on the right foot, but he always ends up in the wrong place." As with most comedians, performing to audiences in the hallowed ground of Edinburgh is something Murray looks forward to. I cut my teeth in Edinburgh in the 90s and I love the Anglo-Scots needle we can get going on a good night."

His visit will also include a book signing for Murray's recently released third book The Pub Landlord's Great British Pub Quiz Book. Covering subjects as diverse as Food and Drink, Sport and World War Champions of the World, to The Career of Shane Ritchie, Disney Films and Famous Daves, the book provides 'honest questions with honest answers' to people who are generally suspicious of questions.

But for the Landlord, the pub quiz is more than just a way to attract punters on a slow Tuesday night. Rather, it's 'at the heart of the very fabric that makes up the centre of the middle of what makes Great Britain the powerhouse of the world that it is.' Oh Dear. Perhaps a stiff drink is in order.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, stands up for Germany
The comedian best known for his Pub Landlord persona tells Patrick Smith why he's presenting a serious BBC Four series about Germany's cultural past.
Patrick Smith
30 Nov 2010

Considering that he’s best known for his boorish, xenophobic alter-ego the Pub Landlord, Al Murray might seem an unlikely choice to front a nuanced and unusual take on Germany’s cultural history. Yet that’s precisely what the stand-up comedian’s doing in Al Murray’s German Adventure, a new two-part documentary beginning on Wednesday on BBC Four.

“What we really wanted to do was look at Germany without mentioning the war,” says the 42 year-old, bringing to mind that other great comic creation from the hospitality industry, Basil Fawlty. “It’s not just Germany that was hijacked by the Nazis; it was our view of the place. It began to get on my t--s that we weren’t looking at it from any other perspective.”

The documentary, part of BBC Four’s Germany season, sees Murray travel through Hamburg, Hamlyn, Lübeck, Leipzig and Berlin during the country’s worst winter in 20 years. Along the way he explores the world of Brahms, the Brothers Grimm, Bauhaus, Brecht and Thomas Mann and finds a “nation of dreamers”, one that he says has had a palpable influence on British culture.

It’s illuminating stuff and Murray looks well-suited to the part; unshaven and wearing a black fedora hat, he bears an uncanny resemblance to an old history professor of mine. He’s engaging company, too: funny and erudite, although he admits he was forced to do “a lot of cramming” beforehand.

Murray’s switch to presenting a serious documentary is not a complete surprise, though. Despite the ease with which he can mimic and parody ill-informed rants as the Pub Landlord, in real life he is a very different character (we meet in a members-only bar; he orders a cup of tea). This isn’t the first time he’s explored German history either: in 2004, he fronted the 10-part Discovery series Al Murray’s Road to Berlin, about the Second World War.

In fact, Murray is a descendant of the 19th-century novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, and his father was a lieutenant-colonel. He also read history at Oxford. Regret for his lost academic years, though, is one of the things that has propelled him into serious television: “I didn’t study hard enough at university,” he laments. “Basically, I’d been at boarding school for 10 years where I’d been quite nerdy so when I got to uni I went mad. I wish I’d gone to more lectures now.”

Nevertheless, it was at university that he nurtured his love for comedy. Encouraged by fellow comedians Armando Iannucci and Stewart Lee – both of whom were studying there at the time – Murray began performing in the comedy group, the Oxford Revue. Since then he’s gone on to win a Perrier award, and star in several comedy shows including the award-winning Al Murray’s Happy Hour, and the sketch show Al Murray’s Multiple Personality Disorder, which aired last year.

His Pub Landlord shtick has, of course, been the main driving force behind his success. Murray says the character’s creation came about by accident. “I was doing a show with Harry Hill in Edinburgh; it was called Pub International. There was some dancing, music and Harry did some stand-up but we had no way of linking all the bits together. So I thought, ‘Well, why don’t I be a pub landlord?’ It fits the bill.”

Invented over 16 years ago, the character started off as a pastiche of yob culture. But has it become more of a celebration of the very people it sends up? “I think you can celebrate and send up at the same time,” he says. “I like ambivalence. I don’t like certainty in life. The pub landlord takes certainties, which at first sound all right, and then he follows them all the way through to where it sounds bonkers.” This brand of Little England-inflected reductio ad absurdum has proved hugely popular.

His other comic creations haven’t fared as well. Indeed, Murray was denounced as a homophobe for playing a pink PVC-clad gay Nazi character in Al Murray’s Multiple Personality Disorder. So what did he think of the outcry? “I was amazed. But you can’t control what people think or find funny. Margaret Thatcher thought it was hilarious when someone poured salt on their pudding at dinner because they thought it was sugar. That was her sense of humour. To me, that’s not funny.”

What does amuse Murray are British stereotypes about the Germans: “mullets, sausages, humourlessness, efficiency”. That, and the notion that we, as a nation, are so wrapped up in our past that we can’t even think of Germany without picturing the Second World War, as Nick Clegg claimed in 2002. Murray has a theory about this: “I think our problem is that we won it. It’s like the World Cup in 1966. All other England teams are measured against it. I think if you lose something you probably turn your back on it, whereas if you win it you hold it dear."

Al Murray’s German Adventure is on Wednesday on BBC Four at 9.00pm
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Al Murray on the Twitter joke trial: 'Problem is, the law don't do funny'
Al Murray, in court to follow the now notorious Twitter joke trial, calls it 'a Monty Python-does-Kafka brainfart'
Al Murray
The Guardian,
11 February 2012

This week I went to the Royal Courts of Justice to offer support to someone who is in a lot of trouble because of a not particularly funny joke. As an erstwhile pedlar of some not particularly funny jokes (just ask the Guardian's comedy critic, he doesn't dig what I do at all), this matters to me a great deal.

As you walk into the Royal Courts of Justice, you are supposed to be awed by this Victorian legal cathedral, and I suppose you might be if the reason for you being there were not so ridiculous. Paul Chambers, who completely fits the "regular guy" bill, is in court to appeal against a conviction that stemmed from the law having one of its periodic Monty Python-does-Kafka brainfarts. I've never read any Kafka, by the way; maybe I should, and then I'd be as clever as genuflectee Stewart Lee.

In a fit of frustration at his flight being delayed by snow, Paul tweeted this message – and hold onto your hats, this one's all zinger – "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" It's not brilliant, but I'd say it has many hallmarks of the humorous remark – it starts with a mild profanity, leans heavily on exclamation marks, and has a pathetic threat at its heart. Would anyone who was not joking but actually issuing a threat give an airport "a week and a bit"?

This got Paul a conviction for "sending a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003". He lost his job; his life has been pretty much kind of ruined.

Lots of people, including platinum tweeter Stephen Fry, have rallied round to support Paul's right to banter of varying quality. Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted, The IT Crowd and recent West End smash hit The Ladykillers has been deeply involved, a master absurdist in a state of bewilderment at the real thing – his face in court is a mask of disbelief.

On Wednesday, in my new-found role as court reporter, I heard Paul's QC argue that only a "halfwit" wouldn't see that this was a joke. There was, as they say, laughter in court. But the fundamental problem was that the law don't do funny. Not when there's "menace" around. It does do obscene, and views obscene objectively (though that shifts, obviously, or we'd still be banning a glimpse of ankle rather than browsing endless anal). I did what I could to keep up with the flow of the legal argument and various examples of precedent. Where it seemed to be heading was this: context isn't enough, if you're going to make a joke, make sure that you make it clear that a joke's a joke – if you make it clear that a joke is a joke, then it is a joke. So, when saying something you regard as a joke, in order to avoid loss of job and life ruination, say "joke!".

Now, there are people who do this. We know who they are. They are the people with no sense of humour. There is every chance some of them may be lawyers: joke! But not saying "joke!" is a serious business. This week the Sun told the story of a Labour aide called Matt Zarb-Cousin who had tweeted that the Queen was a "benefits scrounger". A Tory MP who has nothing better to do than be a colossal prick ("joke!") pointed his outrage cannons at Mr Zarb-Cousin, saying: "This is a shameful slur against the Queen." Boom! The trouble is he didn't then say "joke!" himself, because he was being serious. Naming this MP would be unfair, as no one really needs to make a monumental tit of themselves twice in one week ("joke!"), and it would get him in the paper again. Mr Zarb-Cousin took a break from sharpening his guillotine ("joke!") and ended up backing down, buckling under the pressure from one jumped-up arse-clown ("joke!"): "To clarify earlier comments about the Queen: it was a joke & wasn't meant to be taken literally. I didn't mean to cause offence & apologise." For Chrissakes.

It seems that at the centre of this is Twitter, which some people, some of them possibly judges ("joke!"), don't really understand at all. I'm on Twitter, and have tons of followers, and I don't know that I really understand it. I don't understand why people will tweet me, calling me a bald cunt, usually confusing "you're" with "your", and then get all huffy and surprised when I point out it's "you're", and that I'm not bald.

It's probably a joke. I don't find it funny. But that's OK. Because this is the thing about comedy – we can't all have the same sense of humour. But to find out what Twitter is, I asked the people who follow me, and got a wide variety of replies.

Someone calling herself Comtesse Plume said this: "I think the widely used term is 'micro blogging site' personally I'd go for 'verbal diahorroea(sp?) social networking'!" Sheffield Andy answered my question with one of his own: "What is Twitter? Is it a tool whereby you can publicly broadcast serious terror threats? #Twitterjoketrial #Iwillkillagain." (those things with hashes are his way of saying "joke!").

But actually, it isn't about Twitter at all. Twitter and poor Paul Chambers are caught in a crossfire of pisspoor Blairite terror legislation ("not a joke!"), a bureaucratic tendency to timewaste and the speed of technological change brought about by the internet. Add to this a feeble-minded sense of humour failure, a failure to realise that not finding something funny is not the same thing as being offended, and that being offended is not the same thing as having an actual opinion, and that a metaphor born of frustration – "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" – is not a terror threat. Even having to point that out is wearying, bewildering, soul-sapping.

I'm off to read Kafka ("joke!").
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Al Murray - 2013-02-19 - Radcliffe and Maconie
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Al Murray: Comedy’s role is to lampoon politics, not to champion it
Ian Burrell
3rd of June 2013

Al Murray, the comic behind the stand-up creation The Pub Landlord, has criticised as “ridiculous” other comedians who embrace political views. In the wake of comments by a BBC commissioning editor that there was a dearth of right-wing comics in broadcasting, Murray spoke of his annoyance at being branded a “lefty”. “I have never run my colours up any particular mast and I wouldn’t,” he said.

In an interview with The Independent, Murray said that comedy’s role was to lampoon politics, not to champion it. “Comics have got to find it all ridiculous and send all of it up,” he said. “The minute you take sides you are not doing that. You put one lead boot on and you will no longer be able to prick everybody. We are supposed to be mischievous and think they are all ghastly.”

Murray was speaking out ahead of the move of his BBC radio show, 7 Day Sunday, to the Saturday schedule on Radio 5 Live. Although the show is news-based, he will ban guests from expressing political opinions. “We are trying to be daft about the week’s news. People who expect answers and political solutions from comics are looking in the wrong place,” he said. “If someone expresses a point of view ‘I say no opinions allowed on this show’.”

Such a neutral stance won’t necessarily be easy for Murray to maintain given the continuing popularity of his reactionary Pub Landlord character, which is currently on tour. Although Murray uses the persona to ridicule the views of a Little Englander, he sometimes finds audience members who share the landlord’s outlook, which is lately based on the view that Ukip are of the left and that a European Union needs to be enforced by British invasion.

“He can be incredibly hare-brained and you still have people saying ‘Yeah, I like what you’re saying there mate,” says Murray. “I get flak for it and people saying ‘Aren’t you worried some people don’t understand it’s a turn?’ No! I’m laughing at these people! In their face!”

Nonetheless, he admits to sharing the Pub Landlord’s obsession with The Second World War. Murray said he had “long discussions” with his radio idol Danny Baker – who will occupy the preceding slot in the 5 Live schedule – “about how many books about Hitler we have got in the house”.

This “fascination with World War Two” is a common theme among “an entire stripe of the British male population”, he said, and one he is attempting to wrestle with in a book he is writing, called Watching War Films with My Dad.

“The childhood [for boys] of the Seventies was Action Man, Airfix and A Bridge Too Far on the telly. The book talks about growing up with all that stuff but trying to put it all aside. When you are a boy you are into it because it’s explosions and machine guns, and a big adventure but when you grow up you realise it’s utterly horrendous.”

He has peppered the book with amusing and interesting facts – including an “amazing incident” in which Montgomery of Alamein's career was“nearly completely derailed by a pig”. But he admits to have thought hard about reconciling his views on WWII with the conflicts that Britain is currently involved in. “That’s all tangled up in the book. It’s ‘difficult’, in one word.”

Having remarked that funeral processions at Wootton Bassett had turned into “public expressions of dissatisfaction” over Government policy, Murray checked himself. “I’m in danger of holding an opinion.”

After establishing himself on ITV, Murray, 45, is becoming a prominent radio presenter with another show on commercial network Planet Rock. He has risked being accused of “heresy” by describing the Sex Pistols as a “straight up rock band” and, as an accomplished drummer, he discusses the contentious subject of rock drumming every week. “It’s a colossal can of worms,” he said. “People don’t really care about politics but they really care about music.”


By his idiotic logic he'd never have a political cartoonist as a guest - what a load of shite.
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