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Al Murray, Arena

April 30 2009

IT is probably not the best idea to stroll in late to a comedy gig. Particularly when the press seats that have been reserved for you are -- and this has never happened before -- in the second row.
Of course, he had me. Something about brown shoes and excrement.
Fortunately, that was it for me.
No so lucky were Shrek, lambasted for having a wife way out of his league and the health and safety officer who has a lot to do with the state of “broken Britain.” Then there was the old fella, the hairy young people (“the scroats”), the girl who was with her dad and his wife but it’s not her mum... and the chap directly in front who sold green roofs, apparently.
Over 15 years, Al Murray’s Pub Landlord has graduated from the few hundred that saw him at Just The Tonic, to the cavernous Arena. His first time here. And while it isn’t a sell-out (3,500 is a fair estimate), you have to consider that just three months ago he sold out the Royal Concert Hall.
The bigger space didn’t seem to phase Britain’s funniest character comic. No I’m not including the Multiple Personality Disorder sketch show. You understand.
The set of four giant hand pumps, beer barrels and obligatory bar -- and the two video screens for those at the back to catch his facial contortions -- were as important as the one liners about God being British, the battle of the sexes, the Lucky List and the 2012 Olympics (it’s going to be sh...)
He closes the two-and-half-hour show (there’s a 20 minute interval soundtracked by his favourite Queen songs) with a singalong about the state of Britain -- “if we’re gonna go down, we’re gonna go down together” -- during which he leads an all-female conga.
Yep, still Britain’s best.
And it turns out I was sat next to Big Bob, Big Bob, Big Bob....

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